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Norway has switched to electric cars. And in their cities you can breathe cleaner air than ever

Norway continues to build stone by stone the first fossil fuel-free nation on the planet.

Norway has switched to electric cars. And in their cities you can breathe cleaner air than ever
Norway has switched to electric cars

When we look at Norway and we see the enormous success of the introduction of the electric car, we can see the result of enormous work from the public sector that literally pushed people to buy this type of vehicle. A bet that began much earlier than we think and that has allowed the Nordic country to be a world leader in the implementation of this technology in sales per inhabitant.

The question is how. How Norway has managed to be an exception in a market where electricity is a small part of sales. A market that last March accumulated 60% of pure electric car sales, to which we can add 15% of plug-in hybrids. Something that indicates that the end of sales of cars with combustion engines is much closer than initially expected.

During the month of September, a total of 15,552 new cars were delivered in Norway, of which up to 61.5% corresponded to electric models, according to the figures managed by the country's Road Traffic Information Council. According to the agency, this has been the highest figure recorded to date.

The answer is the strong support that the different governments that have passed have made to the electric car since 1995. Measures such as applying a tax exemption to vehicles, such as offering free parking in the city center, toll also free, passages on the ferry for the car ... and support for the expansion of a recharging network that has been one of the pillars for Norway to go a few decades ahead in terms of implementation.

This has led to many people being pushed to buy an electric since when it comes to making numbers, they come out much cheaper in the short term. A factor that makes combustion engine models a minority alternative for those looking for a car for their longer trips. Something to which is added that practically all the electricity that Norway obtains comes from renewables, such as hydroelectric, which also makes it more sustainable.

But it doesn't mean that electric sales have always been explosive. Although their advancement has been much faster than in the rest of the world, not long ago electric cars were known to few Norwegians. In 2010, when the first mass-produced models began to hit the market, sales were still very low and hardly anyone knew which electric models were on sale. As an example, the barely 722 units sold in all of 2010, which reached 2,240 in 2011. Numbers that we can compare with the 79,611 units registered in 2019, which very possibly will be exceeded again this year except for supply problems due to the current crisis.

Despite the fact that vehicle prices, even with aid, were very high, sales began to take a positive path each year. This meant that at the beginning of the era of the modern electric car, many Norwegians bet on technology by purchasing the most expensive car they had ever bought. Something that they hoped to compensate for with the battery of aid measures that the government had launched decades ago.

Registrations were increasing as the cars became more known, but also as the supply and performance of the vehicles increased. Something that has culminated in the turning point that has occurred this year, when sales have skyrocketed their market share driven by the arrival of important novelties, as well as by the collapse of registrations of cars with a combustion engine, and It turned out that only 17.7% of the cars that were sold in March had a diesel or gasoline engine.

A key moment that now remains to be seen as it evolves with a coronavirus crisis that has fully impacted the automobile industry and its entire production chain, but which for many may be the key for many other states to bet on an exit from the crisis in the hands of new mobility technologies that help to mitigate the strong external energy dependence that weighs down the economies of Europe, and reduces the competitiveness of the companies installed in the old continent.

A situation that, as we see, will need strong support from governments, as in the case of Norway, or also in the case of other radically different markets such as China, it has been shown that without the public impulse the evolution will be much slower.

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JOHN ANDERSON
See all posts by JOHN ANDERSON