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EVs No Longer Niche in Norway

A tramline in Oslo, the city with the most EVs per capita globally

October 20 – Oslo – Norway, rich in petroleum, is also a global leader in renewable energy use, at 98%, and that cleaner, more inexpensive electricity is helping to drive the push of electric vehicles into the mainstream market.

Roughly one in six cars sold in Norway is an EV, a whopping 15% share.

Norway has the most EVs per capita of any country, although its love for zero-emission vehicles didn’t develop overnight.



For nearly three decades, nascent support for EVs by owners and local governments has grown into national incentive schemes and a robust charging infrastructure.

Norway’s Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Energy and Environment, Ola Elvestuen, says the incentives had created the nationwide EV market.

“They took away all the taxes on electric cars and we introduced the other incentives: You could park for free, charge for free, you can use the bus lanes and toll roads for free. And slowly in the beginning, but for the last few years, it has really taken off,” said Elvestuen.

Since sales began in 2011, Nissan LEAF has become the nation’s third best-selling car with over 15,000 on Norway’s roads.

Tesla’s Model S is now the top-selling EV, while Volkswagen’s e-Up and eGolf are also part of Norway’s consumer charge.

In the city of Oppegard, Mayor Ildri Eidem and her municipal board considered practicality and economy, as well as the environment, when deciding on 30 Nissan LEAFs for traveling healthcare staff.

“It was a better solution when it comes to the environment. And we actually save $100,000 a year in running the cars,” said Eidem.

Using the LEAF on rounds, Else Bustnes noted the quiet ride, as well as ease of driving and visibility, but said environmental benefits were key.

“In Norway, we care about the environment and reducing emissions, but I still believe the main reason why so many Norwegians buy EVs is because we have very good incentives that make it possible for people to choose a more environmentally-friendly car, one that is cheaper to own and use,” said Bustnes. 

Christina Bu, head of the EV Owners Association in Oslo

In Oslo, Nissan Sales Manager Eirik Nilsen said owners show their passion for EVs by what is called the “neighbor effect”.

“We’ve got so many customers coming in because their neighbors own it, and friends and colleagues,” said Nilsen. “One of my colleagues, who has sold the most LEAFs in Norway, has had one customer refer six new sales.”

The range of customers has broadened since 2011, as well as electric models, and the new Nissan e-NV200 is gaining popularity.

Christina Bu, Secretary General of the Oslo-based Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association – with 13,500 members – said EVs are so popular that criticism of national incentives is growing.

“This is definitely the start of a paradigm shift. And as with every paradigm shift, it doesn’t happen easily,” said Bu. “Some carmakers have not put an EV into the market. But we just think, ‘Well, you’d better do that.”

Norway will maintain incentives until total EV sales reach 50,000 cars or until 2017, but most expect the mark to fall next year.

Parliamentarian Ola Elvestuen has long been an active proponent of EVs in Oslo and Norway

That is when Oslo will have more than 1,000 EVs as part of its municipal fleet.

“To have a zero-emission fleet of cars is one part of a bigger strategy that any city should have. For Oslo and other cities in Norway that is the case. They use way more money and put much more energy into public transportation systems, (and) good bike lanes. Comparatively, it has been quite easy to build up a good infrastructure for electric cars,” said Elvestuen.

“The goal is to make an emission-free transportation system.”

In Europe and across the globe, Norway is clearly setting the pace in creating a zero-emission tomorrow by building its EV infrastructure today.

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