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Forbidden Love in Jeopardy: Norway and the Electric Car

By: Nicholas Urban

Over the past couple years, Norwegians interested in purchasing electric vehicles (EVs) have benefitted from incredibly generous federal incentives. EVs in Norway are sold with no purchase tax or VAT, they are exempt from paying tolls and parking fees, and can recharge for free at various charging stations across the country.  However, a recent spike in sales may mark the end of many of these incentives, and with it the “Norway-EV” love affair–reports John Vidal, environment editor of The Guardian, in a recent article published this Wednesday, 29 January 2014.

The Guardian reports that the modern Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf EVs were, “the best-selling models among all cars sold in the country, beating popular and conventionally-fuelled cars including the VW Golf” for three months at the of 2013 (click here to read the full article).  As a result, Norway, a country with a population less than 1/12 that of the United Kingdom, now has over four times as many EVs on the road! Undoubtedly, Norway has achieved one of the most fossil fuel free residential transport sectors in the world.

So how cheap can they really be?

According to The Guardian, you can expect to pay 280,000 NOK (245,000 DKK or £26,500) upfront for the EV and only about 1,800 NOK (1,600 DKK or £176) to run it for 10,000 km. This would result in an estimated savings of 6,200 NOK (5,500 DKK or £600) from petrol purchases over the same 10,000 km. Once free road, ferry, and parking tolls are included the car becomes more and more attractive.

With such a cost effective zero emission car available on the market, it is no wonder why sales have skyrocketed in recent months.  Now, it is easier to have the luxury of a personal vehicle without the guilt of emitting CO2 and other nasty pollutants.

However, these incentives are planned to expire once, “50,000 zero emission cars have been registered or come 2018, whichever is the earlier.” If sales continue going the way they have been, the 50,000 registered EV mark can be reached as early as mid-2015. The question is whether sale rates can be retained once the federal aid is lifted.

Let us hope that wholesale costs of EVs will drop before then, so that Norway can resume its love affair and continue to be a leader in the world of clean transport.

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