How Norway became world #1 on EV mobility

Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn's video speech at the Nordic Edge Cross-Atlantic Conference 18 March.

Hello, everyone!

Thank you for inviting me to speak about the Norwegian electric vehicles success. One of several reasons to envy Norway,  I might add.  And the main reason why foreign journalists want to interview me.  

What is the car situation in Norway? A Tesla on every corner? Not quite yet. But we are getting there.

From 2011 to 2018, Norway was the third largest market in the world for battery electric vehicles. More than half of new passenger cars are electric.

Why is that?

It is all about politics. The government has introduced a broad range of tax cuts, cheaper road tolls and several other user benefits for drivers of electric cars.

Having relatively high taxes on fossil cars, the effect of tax reduction for electric cars is considerable.  Battery electric vehicles are exempted from VAT. They have no registration tax, traffic insurance tax or re-registration tax.

Drivers of electric cars pay no more than half of what drivers of conventional cars pay for parking, boarding ferries and driving on toll roads.

Gasolin and diesel is charged with a CO2 tax, which favours the use of electric cars even more. 

Access to charging is vital. The government wants charging infrastructure to be market based as fast as possible. And it is already, in many places, but public support is necessary in rural districts. Enova, a government mandated support program, has support schemes for rapid charging stations.

Norway has about 2900 rapid charging stations and about 17.000 publicly available charging points already.

So, why do we want people to use battery electric cars?

Electric cars have benefits for society – lower greenhouse gas emissions over the life time, lower air pollution, less noise and thereby great health benefits.

Besides, we also want to contribute to the development and use of technology and infrastructure.

We have established several targets:

All new passenger cars and light vans sold in 2025 should be zero-emission vehicles.

All new urban buses sold in 2025 should be zero emitters or use biogas.

By 2030, all new heavy duty vehicles, 75 per cent of new long distance coaches and 50 per cent of new trucks should be zero emission vehicles.

Enova has introduced a support program for zero emission vans. The electric vans  market share in new sales is now almost 9 per cent, and rising rapidly.

About 17,5 per cent of new city buses were electric in 2020.

For heavy goods vehicles and long distance buses, it is still early days. Still, several large companies have already placed orders for zero emission trucks.

Now, I would like to tell you a story about car ferries. Because car ferries are also about politics.

The world's first electric car ferry, the Ampere from 2015, sails in a Norwegian fjord. Ampere was initially a development project, whith close dialogue between the private sector and the public sector.

We also have the worlds largest electric car ferry. It got into operation on March 1th, on the Oslo Fjord. About 80 electric ferries in total will be sailing in Norwegian fjords from 2022.

Today, as a general rule, we require zero and low emission technology for new public tenders for car ferries. Requirements will be introduced from 2023 and for high-speed passenger vessel services from 2025.

Returning to the cars,  I conclude: Our electric cars success is based on tax and user benefits combined with heavy taxation of fossil fuels and on conventional cars. People use electric cars because it is convenient and because it is profitable. In short: Incentives work.

But, from my perspective, someone who is engaged in the environment buying an electric car, is not so impressive. They would by it anyway. But when I really get excited, is when someone who doesn't care about the environment, or who doesn't even acknowledge the existence of global warming, buys an electric car. That means our system is really working, that what benefits the environment, benefits the individual. And I think that's the only way forward.

Thank you!