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Heidi Myrene parks her 2015 Tesla Model S in the last available space at the Lier Tesla Supercharger Station, 23 miles southwest of Oslo. She’s on her way to the family cabin by the lake, which charges slower than her main house.
It’s all so normal that she seems surprised when asked about her Electric Vehicle life. What is your biggest complaint? Norwegian road dirt. “Having a good car it is a bad place.”
Welcome to Norway, a country where the electric future has arrived. Such is the prevalence of electric vehicles that the streets of the Norwegian capital Oslo are almost silent, save for the ever-present crunch of road salt in the grooves of winter tires. Electric vehicles are everywhere.
Norway will ban the sale of new ICE cars as early as 2025, but it’s so generously encouraging the transition to electric cars that it’s almost there. In the first two months of the year, 80 percent of all new cars sold there were electric.
Norway had more than 470,000 registered electric vehicles in February, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the country’s total registered private cars, according to the OFV road association.
The UK was close behind with 420,000 electric vehicles at the end of February, but this was only 1.3% of the 33 million vehicles on UK roads.
For the average buyer, Norwegian incentives are hard to miss. A 2021 survey by the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association (Elbil) compared the import price of an ICE Volkswagen Golf (equivalent to £18,747) with the import price of an electric Volkswagen e-Golf (equivalent to £28,093) . As it turns out, local taxes have pushed the price of the standard car up to £28,976, while the e-Golf has only risen by £211.
Balancing prices by waiving the two main sales taxes for electric vehicles, such as import duties and a 25 percent VAT, as well as other incentives, “is the main reason why the Norwegian electric vehicle market is so successful compared to any other country,” Elbil said.
As the 2025 ICE car sales deadline looms, the Norwegian government is curbing its generosity. Starting this year, electric vehicles will be subject to a transfer tax again after being scrapped in 1996. Electric Vehicle drivers have also been asked to restore tolls since 2017 (delayed to Electric Vehicles under pressure from pop band A-ha). ), although the government has stipulated that they cannot exceed 50% of the fees charged for ICE equivalents.
There are other benefits as well. Electric cars can still use bus lanes on the highway to Oslo, and fueling an electric car is still far cheaper than an internal combustion engine car.
“I was tired of expensive diesel,” Frank Skarpass, the owner of a Jaguar I-Pace for the past three years, I went from paying about 4000kr (£350) a month for diesel to a couple of hundred for charging.” It helps that he gets free charging at his workplace, a power-grid company.
Norway is not a big market, with just 176,276 cars last year compared to 1.65 million in the UK. But the fact that it punches well above its weight in Electric Vehicles makes it an attractive target for companies.
Models capable of earning reliable points in the UK’s rare car slot game are everywhere in Oslo. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is everywhere, as are the Audi E-tron, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and BMW iX.
Chinese manufacturers such as BYD, Hongqi, NIO and Xpeng Motors are establishing themselves in Norway first and then taking on the difficult task of convincing Europeans elsewhere to consider them rather than domestic brands.
“Looking across Europe, Norway has the best government incentive policy and a relatively well advanced charging infrastructure, and they’re more open to new brands,” Hui Zhang, managing director of Nio’s European operations, said.
There’s another good reason. “It’s one of the richest countries,” Zhang said. For a company like Nio, whose ES8 seven-seat SUV can reach the equivalent of €60,000 (£50,695), this is a big consideration.
This wealth is reflected in the sales chart. The top seller in February was the Ioniq 5, followed by the iX, E-tron and Polestar 2. Last year, Tesla was the best-selling brand in the country with an 11 percent market share.
Norway’s electric vehicle revolution is currently being driven by the wealthier half of the population. Benedicte Hoslund’s experience charging the Mk1 Nissan Leaf next to the I-Pace in Skarpass reflects the reality of Electric Vehicle life for more ordinary Norwegians. She rented it from a friend, while her own diesel Citroën C3 was in the garage.
As a nurse and mother of three, the average 62-mile charge that the Mark 1 Leaf returns is useless for her daily commute—a workload that pushes her annual mileage to around 15,000.
Farshid Amz is waiting outside an Oslo supermarket in his wife’s Lexus UX 300e.
“We have to have an electric car because my work is in central Oslo,” he said. “It’s not free, but it’s less than diesel. The 300km (186 miles) range is not bad for the city, but we can’t go too far. If we go to the country, we’ll take my diesel Fiat 500.”
Bjarn Haug has now been driving the replacement E-tron 55 for 6 months, awaiting the arrival of his delayed Audi Q4 E-tron.
“The performance is ridiculous. You don’t need it. The first few weeks are fun though.”
Taxi driver Lalnazar Khan waits for work in Oslo’s trendy water front district of Aker Brygge, driving a four-day-old Tesla Model Y that replaces a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz A-class sedan.
“The time is now for electric,” he says. “They’re going to close the city to diesel by 2024. I don’t have a charger at home, but we have many places to charge. I charge just for half an hour a day, so it’s good for me.”
As for Skarpass: “Normally I get 350km [217 miles] on a charge. That’s more than enough. The distance to Oslo from where I live is 400km [249 miles], so I have to stop. In the summer, I can get there without charging. I don’t miss anything about diesel, apart from maybe the faster fuelling. I love the speed, the driving experience, the silence – everything.”
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