Norway passed a significant milestone last year. Only approximately 8% of new vehicles sold in the country were only powered by traditional gasoline or diesel. Electric cars accounted for two-thirds of new automobile sales, with electric-and-gasoline hybrids accounting for the majority of the rest. Norway has been a global pioneer in the transition away from traditional cars for years, thanks to government incentives that made electric vehicles significantly more affordable and provided extras such as allowing electric car owners to avoid some parking and toll road tolls.
Even nevertheless, electric car enthusiasts are astounded by how quickly the internal combustion engine (ICE) has become extinct in Norway. “How rapidly things have changed has astonished most people,” Christina Bu, who serves as the Norwegian EV Association’s secretary-general, stated. Electric cars accounted for around 20% of new auto sales in 2015, and they are now “the new normal,” according to Bu.
Americans would think of Norwegians as environmental warriors ready to get rid of their gas cars. However, Bu and other transportation specialists stated that Norwegians have similar reservations about electric vehicles as Americans.
This has changed as a result of government policies that prioritize easy wins and a rising number of enticing electric vehicles. With time, this combination persuaded more Norwegians that electric automobiles were a good fit for them. Bu recently stated that if Norway could accomplish it, so could the United States and other countries.
Transportation emits the most greenhouse gases in the United States, according to climate scientists, and transitioning away from combustion engine automobiles is critical to averting the worst effects of global warming. Electric car sales in the United States are rapidly expanding, although, at roughly 3% of new passenger cars, they are still far behind those in most other developed countries.
So, what did Norway get right this time? According to Bu, the country’s policies prioritized the easiest task first: persuading consumers who were thinking about buying a new vehicle to go electric. Norwegians who purchased new electric automobiles were exempt from the country’s exorbitant new vehicle sales taxes. For many consumers, this made electric cars a no-brainer, and it didn’t impact those who already owned conventional automobiles or those who purchased secondhand ones.
Bu also claimed that Norway was not immobilized by genuine objections to electric vehicles — but what about charging stations? Is it true that electric car subsidies are a government handout to the wealthy? Norway, in other words, did not let the ideal become the enemy of the good.
Not every country’s tax system is designed to stimulate the purchase of electric vehicles. (Gas taxes in Norway are likewise fairly expensive.) However, Bu argued that in order for this to function in the United States, they could raise taxes on the most contaminating new car models and use the money to support the purchase of electric vehicles.