How Did Norway Become The EV Capital Of The World?

How Did Norway Become The EV Capital Of The World?


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Posted on EVANNEX October 29, 2021 by Charles Morris

We all know Norway is the most charged country on the planet—in September, electric vehicles accounted for 78% of the total auto market. Adding hybrids and plug-in hybrids brought the total share for electrified vehicles to 92%. The most popular models were Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3, which accounted for 40 percent of total sales. 

How did the Nordic nation get to this point, and are there some lessons here for other countries that would like to break their oil addiction? Ironically, the best account of Norway’s rise to EV stardom that we’ve seen lately was written on the other side of the globe.

As Bevan Shields writes in the Sydney Morning Herald, the story began in the 1980s, with a couple of environmentalists who drove the Norwegian roads in a converted Fiat Panda. They felt that EVs should be exempt from tolls, so they regularly tooled through toll booths without paying. This led to the car being impounded and put up for auction, but nobody else wanted their homemade EV, which had a range of only 45 kilometers, so they were able to buy it back for a mere 200 Norwegian kroner.

This act of green civil disobedience generated a lot of publicity, and activists pressured the government to establish incentives to drive electric. Norway made EV drivers exempt from tolls in 1997, granted free parking in 1999, and began allowing EVs to use bus lanes in 2003.

What really got the electric ball rolling was a series of tax reductions. Like many European countries, Norway imposes various taxes—import tax, registration fee, company car tax—on automobiles, and EVs are exempt from most of these. The country’s value-added tax can be up to 25 percent for a gas-burner, but for an EV, it’s zero. This means that even a luxury EV such as a Tesla can be cheaper than a mid-price legacy vehicle. (Now that EVs have become so prevalent, there’s been talk of rolling some of these goodies back.)

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