While it is largely unpredictable if the US will ever adopt electric vehicles to the masses, with Mintel’s automotive analysts being more encouraged than Indiana University’s researchers, the case of Norway is rather different.
Even though batteries of electric vehicles doubled last year, compared to 2011, EVs still represent only 0.6% of light vehicles sold in the US while the outlook is altogether positive in Norway. For example more Nissan Leaf cars were bought in Norway compared to the US, even though the US population is more than 60 times that of Norway.
Also, there are more reservations of the Tesla Model S in Norway than anywhere else in Europe. And finally, the number of EVs sold in 2012 got past the 10,000 mark in Norway, taking EVs to 5.2% of all vehicle sales.
So, as the figures show, Norway must be doing something right. Why are the Norwegians not so anxious about the “range anxiety” is to largely to blame for negatively impacting sales of EVs in Europe and the US?
It all boils down to two words: economics and comfort.
Considering economics, cars sold in Norway are not necessarily cheap though smaller cars are naturally less expensive, but EVs are economical since import taxes are waived putting the Nissan Leaf among the best selling cars (Number 13 out of 20) in the Scandinavian country. This is the exact opposite of what happens elsewhere in Europe, with EVs costing relatively more than regular gasoline-driven cars.
Despite the fact that affordability is important, the Norwegian government’s “comfort incentives” have also played a big role in the adoption of EVs. Norway’s capital city, Oslo, permits EV drivers to use the bus lane, thus escaping rush-hour traffic. Also, parking space in the city is free for EVs, ensuring that they are subjected to the congestion like for other cars. In addition to these incentives, Norway boasts 3,500 charging stations as well as 100 fast-charging posts, ensuring that the infrastructure exists to cater for these vehicles.
This has led to green car organization Gröna Bil teaming up with FORES, an NGO to find out exactly what is responsible for the booming EV market in Norway, in contrast with Sweden, where EVs represent only 0.13% of all bought vehicles.
FORES and Gröna Bil came to the conclusion that giving regular gasoline cars and EVs just about the same price is just as important as the convenience and comfort incentives in order for more people to choose EVs. Gröna Bil’s estimation showed that only about 5% of drivers would choose EVs for green reasons, whereas the remainder would only consider them if the price, convenience and comfort offered are just right. That is exactly what has been achieved in Norway, as it is now predicted that the number of EVs by 2020 would have reached 200,000.
What about range anxiety? That is also present in Norway, as most EVs on the market still do not have enough range to travel into the countryside after charging only once. However, affordability, as well as being able to avoid rush hour traffic by using the bus lanes are adequate incentive.