Looking at Norway, getting people to buy an electric car doesn’t seem like a complicated task. In 2021, 64.5% of cars sold were electric, according to data from the Norway Electric Vehicle Association, peaking at 77.5% in September.
22% were plug-in hybrids, meaning that only 14% of new cars sold were combustion engines. In Italy, electric and plug-in hybrids accounted for 9.3% of the market last year.
Still, Norway has not implemented any secret recipe, as Christina Bu, the association’s general secretary, wrote in Time.
From 1 to 65% in ten years
In 2015, Buu recalled, electric cars sold in Norway accounted for 20% of the new car market. In six years, their share has therefore more than tripled, which means that in Norway at least two out of three people who buy a new car choose to buy it electric. In ten years, Norwegian electric cars in Norway have gone from 1% of new registrations to 65% in 2021.
“It surprised many how quickly things changedBuu admitted to the New York Times, according to which the share of all-electric cars in 2022 will increase to 80%.
The first step is obvious: financial incentives
The truth is that Norway has done nothing but motivate people who were already interested in electric cars in the first place. This has meant giving them the ultimate necessary incentive, such as removing taxes on the purchase of an electric car, excluding electric car owners from paying motorway tolls or allowing them to park for free or at reduced prices on the street.
The financial incentive is therefore the most effective: In Norway there are incentives for the purchase of an electric car, the costs of which are therefore partially absorbed by the state; hybrids, on the other hand, are not taxed, so it is still cheaper to buy a hybrid car than to buy an internal combustion car.
An additional physiological element that has contributed to the increase in the share of electric and plug-in hybrid cars has been the improvement and expansion of the range of electric and hybrid cars that can be purchased. This, on the other hand, has also put pressure on the used car market, which naturally depends on new cars: over time, the used car market will have more and more choices of electric cars as the current owners change cars and therefore put the one they already own up for sale.
“I would say that if Norway did it, any country can do itBuu wrote referring to how Norway’s geographical layout, with long roads, mountains and a very cold climate (which therefore does not help battery autonomy), is not friendly to full electric driving. The transition is successful.
Buu points out, however, that although Norway is a success story, other countries are moving faster. “While Norway took two and a half years to go from 2 to 10% of electric cars on the market, the UK took a year and a half and Germany only one.” he emphasized.
Overall, however, even tax incentives have a limit: Eliminating or at least greatly reducing the payment of parking spaces and motorway tolls to owners of electric cars also means that the income of municipalities is greatly reduced.
This can be manageable when electric cars are in the minority; however, it becomes complex when they are popular, emphasized Anders Hartmann from Asplan Viak, a Norwegian consulting firm for planning and engineering. At the same time, financial incentives are very popular – taking them away is difficult.