Electric vehicles; politics are the key to revolution

Electric vehicles, the undeniable future. By now I am sure most of you heard about the EV revolution happening in Norway. In 2018, 34% of new car sales were pure electric vehicles and it looks like Norway will hit the 50% mark in 2019.

Yeah, but Norway is rich

electric car charging

This is the common theory on why Norway is experiencing an EV revolution. But just think about it. It is not the fact that Norway is a rich country, it is about their mentality and politics. They have a car taxing system that makes it possible to even out the prices of electric cars. One popular example is the Volkswagen e-Golf.

The 115 hp diesel VW Golf costs 23,400€, after the CO2 and NOX tax the price rises for additional 4600€. After the regular VAT and weight + scrapping fee the price jumps up to about 36,000€. The e-Golf in Norway costs 34,600€. You do not have to pay any CO2 and NOX tax, because you do not emit any. You also do not have to pay the regular VAT and weight tax. Add the scrapping fee (250€) to the e-Golf and your final price is less than 35,000€.

So yes, Norway is still an oil rich country. The economy is strong, but it is not the only one in the region. It is the mentality that changed and the politics followed by supporting the narrative. The hefty taxing system cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. Other first world countries could make bigger efforts to evening out prices between electric vehicles and inner combustion vehicles.

tesla electric car

This is the key to the revolution. When you have an electric car priced evenly with a diesel car you can expect the sales of electric vehicles to rise dramatically. Thats is exactly what happened in Norway. Once the prices evened out, people jumped at the chance of owning an electric vehicle. And keep in mind, this is Norway, a cold country which makes it harder for battery life and charging. The technology however is ready for such conditions. Norway is the proof of the concept, it works.

Other incentives

Norway went further that just price parity with inner combustion vehicles. Their parliament They offer reduced highway tolls, free ferry rides (Norway has a lot of islands), free designated city parking, privilege to drive on the BUS lane, no annual road tax. Plug-in hybrids have some benefits but not nearly as much as pure electric vehicles. Oh, and you also get a cool license plate like EL, EK, EV…

There has been many critics of the heavily subsided adoption of the electric vehicles. Analysis by Bjart Holtsmark of Statistics Norway found out that a single electric car costs 8200$ per year. Which is a high price to pay for the battle against the increasing carbon footprint. Many people also buy a second electric car so they can use the bus lane and avoid using public transport. This increases the congestion of city centre which is ironic seeing how electric vehicles take blame for causing traffic jams and increasing environmental problems.

Ferry operators are losing revenue due to the heavy increase of electric vehicles. Ferry operators still get a fee for every person in the car but they do not charge a fee for the car alone. They carry the burden of the lost revenues and not he government. Some ferry companies are fighting against this seeing how it is unfair for them to lose profits because of government programs.
There is also a lot of criticism of free parking for electric vehicles. With the increase of electric vehicles in the city centres, people with regular cars are having trouble getting parking spaces. Some cities complain how electric car owners are taking advantage of this. They park in the city centre for more than the allowed 4 hours and they do this by moving their car around and enjoy the free parking for the whole day. As a result inner city businesses are losing revenue due to the decrease of traffic flow.

bmw i8 hybrid

Market and sales

Norways government’s initial goal was to see 50,000 electric vehicles on Norways roads. They achieved this in April of 2015. A year later in the April of 2016, the they passed the 100,000 mark. In December of 2018 they passed the 200,000 mark and the number is increasing. They were also the first country in the world to have an electric car top the sales charts among all cars. In 2018 the fully electric Nissan Leaf was the best selling car of the year. In January of 2019, 50,000 Nissan Leafs were registered in Norway alone.

Goals for the future

Their plan is to emit half less CO2 by 2030 as they did in 2016. Their National Transport Plan from 2016 reported that the transport sector emits 16,5 million tons of CO2. Which is a third of all carbon dioxide emissions produced in Norway. To achieve this they plan on transforming the sales of all new cars, urban buses and light commercial vehicles to be zero-emission vehicles. They should either be all-electric or hydrogen powered.
By 2030 all heavy duty vans, 75% long distance buses and 50% of heavy truck should also be zero-emission vehicles. They also plan on transforming 40% of their sea transport to zero-emission or biofuel power. They do however plan on reducing the amount of incentives.

Incentives, incentives, incentives

So it seems like everything in Norway started with heavy incentives. And the incentives are still mostly present and in full force. They will however start decreasing these incentives and rely on the fact that people recognised the added value electric vehicles bring. Some incentives will certainly stay and fuel the sales going forward. Offering incentives like this means that every government will have to face some loss of revenues. And governments are like greedy piglets, they do not like losing food. We can talk about saving our environments all we want but the reality is not pretty. Someone has to lose something. It can be the government or the people. Norway decided to lose tax and other revenue streams in order to make a significant change for the better of our environment. Which country is going to be next? Hard to say. Greedy piglets.