Electrifying Norway – A Success for Transport and the Climate

When it comes to electro-mobility, Norway is a true powerhouse. The small country is showing the world how to progress towards sustainable traffic and transport. What’s the secret?

Sustainable transport is a global topic, but no state has implemented this aim as consistently as Norway. The Scandinavian country has the highest number of electric car drivers per capita in the world. And with highspeed, all other transport sectors are electrified, such as public bus transport, ferries, lorries, containerships, even aircraft. Norway is on the fast lane to become the planet’s most electrified society.

How is this working, and why Norway? We’ve asked an expert, Christina Bu, General Secretary of Norway’s Electric Vehicle Association. With a smile, she gives us a simple answer to this complex topic: “We taxed what we don’t want and promoted what we want. This is how the electric transformation in Norway was starting to move.” Besides, she admits, in a small, participative country like Norway decisions are easier to reach than in bigger countries that take much longer in planning and receive considerably more pushback. Additionally, Norway does not have any automotive industry that would fight change. Plus, Norway has a clean power supply that is 98% renewable hydropower. But mostly she points out the national collaboration.

Christina Bu, Secretary General from Norwegian EV Association, is proud that nearly every second car in Norway is electric.

Electrification as a National Collaboration

This impressive development is on the one hand based on the political willingness to support electrification, but also the support and collaboration of many public organizations and NGOs, companies and private people. The Norwegian government already in 1998 came up with the national transport plan to set goals for a better and greener Norway facing increasing traffic and mobility. Based on the proposal of four key transport agencies for air, sea, rail and road transport and other organizations, the government recently presented the 5th NTP (2018-2029) with the following tasks:

  • 50 % reduction of emissions from transport by 2030
  • Mostly full transition to electrical vehicles by 2040
  • 100 % zero-emission of all new sold cars, city buses and light vans by 2025
  • 75 % zero-emission of all new sold long-distance buses and heavy vans by 2030
  • 50 % zero-emission of all new sold lorries and heavy vans

Every second New car in Norway is Electric

Private traffic has experienced a real boom. While in 2012 the share of new sold cars was around 3 %, this year it has grown to over 50 %. „Today, every second sold car in Norway is partly or fully electric. We are in an early mass market,” claims Christina Bu. This boom is not driven purely by the eco-friendliness of the Norwegian people, but also by tax-reductions and many government incentives. Buyers of electric cars save 25 % tax, which makes an electric car not significantly more expensive than a fossil-fueled car. For example, a new Tesla has a price about the same as a new fossil-fueled Audi or Mercedes. Furthermore, owners of electrical cars pay a reduced road tax, are exempt from many tolls and road fees, can drive in some bus lanes, and get free municipal parking.

Charging is the Challenge

The amount of more than 200.000 fully electric cars has led to an increasing need for fast charging points. In Oslo, people are installing these at record speed. Oslo’s Climate and Energy Fund provides grants to build the charging infrastructure, i.e. the installation of cables and connections in the parking garage or car park. Christina Bu is aware of the challenges: “Together with the industry and different charging operators we have to plan for a whole new infrastructure to provide fast charging points as needed.”

Wireless Charging for Taxis

Maybe wireless charging will be the answer to the increasing need. Oslo plans that from 2023 onward, all taxis in the city will be zero emission. Norway will install the world’s first wireless electric car charging stations for Oslo taxis. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to charge electric taxis, as doing so now is time-consuming and expensive. Using induction, which is more energy-efficient, the taxis can be charged as they wait in what’s known as a taxi rank, or a slow-moving queue where cabs line up to wait for passengers. “The future is electric, and it is already here, right now. Wireless charging is a potential game changer,” said Sture Portvik, Oslo’s electromobility manager, in a statement.

Shift from Diesel to Electric Buses

Public bus companies all over Norway are making major advances towards zero-emission transport. Ruter, a public transport operator in Norway, has established the project “Fossil free 2020” in Oslo, which includes the following tasks:

  • In 2020, all public transport is to be emission-free
  • Increased use of biogas
  • Zero-emission solutions being adopted for all ferries and Ruter’s 1200 buses

In 2018, Ruter has added 70 electric buses to its fleet in Oslo, plus it is currently testing two Chinese bendy buses. Passengers and drivers appreciate the new kind of transport, which provides better air quality, less noise, and a more comfortable and quiet journey.

The Future is Electric, not only in Norway

When it comes to electrification, the world is looking at Norway. Christina Bu and the Electrical Vehicle organization recieve 2-3 international visitors every week. Politicians and business people want to learn from the success story of Norway. Christina Bu is convinced: “Other countries will follow very fast. We are happy to show the world how the transformation towards electrification becomes a success and inspire other countries to do so.”


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