But in Norway, what’s been predicted for 2040 and 2050 is arriving much faster than transportation experts would assume.
According to the country’s Information Council for Road Traffic (OFV), the total of new zero-emissions cars (which include both EVs and hydrogen-powered cars), amounted to almost 60 percent of all new automobile registrations last month. That's almost double the number of zero-emissions cars registered in March 2018.
The news in Norway was especially promising for Tesla, whose Model 3 comprised almost half of those newly purchased zero-emissions vehicles—or over 30 percent of all new cars that Norwegians registered last month. Elon Musk’s brainchild sold more than 5,800 of its cars in Norway during March—a little over 5,300 of which were the Model 3.
Norway’s affinity for electric cars has been several years in the making. Earlier this decade, EVs only had market share in the low single digits, but by the end of 2016, Norwegians had registered over 100,000 zero-emissions vehicles—and, mind you, this is a nation home to only about 5.2 million people. EV-loving California, with about eight times the population of Norway, has approximately 500,000 electric cars in total roaming its roads, so you can imagine the impact EVs are having all over this corner of Scandinavia.
Also helping Norway’s EV boom is the fact that the oil-rich nation actually scores most of its electricity from hydropower. According to the country’s government, Norway is the largest producer of hydropower in Europe and ranks sixth worldwide.
Furthermore, the Norwegian government offers a bevy of incentives for owners of EVs. Such perks include eliminating or vastly reducing certain automobile and registration taxes, reduced or free parking, lower toll charges on many roads or ferries, and an ambitious plan to boost the country’s charging infrastructure. In a country where the personal tax rate alone hovers around 40 percent, these breaks provide more than enough motivation for new car buyers. Some of these incentives will fade in the next few years, but it is clear that EVs will long rule the roads in Norway.
Critics point out that Norway, which regularly ranks within the top 10 wealthiest nations on earth, is able to afford this zero-emissions largess as it is also one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels. The country’s sovereign wealth fund has made moves to divest from conventional fuels such as coal, but the argument arises again that while Norway is slashing emissions at home, it’s shipping them abroad.
Nevertheless, Norway is the perfect storm demonstrating how the right incentives, consumer enthusiasm and a forward-thinking culture have led to what many foresee as the future of transportation occurring right now. The push for EVs benefits U.S. companies such as Tesla as well, as Norway rounds out the list of top 10 export markets for American automakers.
Image credit: Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association/Wiki Commons
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.