For some time now, Norway has been the darling of EV advocates. Article after breathless article will detail how electric cars make up a larger and larger percentage of cars sold in the country.
But nobody asks how that is done.
You would think that EV enthusiasts would give a detailed report on HOW the Norwegians got to drive all those EVs, but you would be disappointed. And that's too bad, because Norway is a case study for how to transition to EVs in little more than one car generation.
The recipe is really quite simple: the Norwegian government sweetened the deal for owning an EV so much that if you were sentient at all, you would be gripped by FOMO, the fear of missing out on all those goodies. For starters, buying an EV gave you huge breaks on a vast array of auto taxes, from the import tax, to the VAT, to the annual road tax. Toll roads and ferries were free for EV drivers. Heck, municipal PARKING was free (until 2017). If that doesn't give a driver FOMO I don't know what will.
You can gape at the full list of incentives below, I've reproduced it here from the Norway EV Association's website (which is in English, helpfully, and maybe also to give the rest of us outside Norway an acute case of FOMO).
No wonder that by 2021, 86% of cars sold in Norway were electric.
You would think that Norwegians would now sit back, shout "Ska!", and down a glass of aquavit, for having arrived at the electric future. But no. Not content with having one-upped the entire world in EV penetration, Norway is now taking the next step. Seems their new motto is,
We don't need newer cars,
We need fewer cars.
The Norwegian transportation minister has said Norway will focus on making it more attractive to walk, bike, and take public transit.
They didn't start this recently, this shift has been in the works for quite some time. If you look over the list of incentives, you will notice that a number of them are being phased out. For instance, toll roads were free to EV drivers until 2017, but starting in 2018 they paid half the toll, and starting 2023 it's 70% of the toll. This makes sense: once everyone starts to buy an EV, the FOMO ploy doesn't work so well any more. Also it gets expensive.
So starting next year, Norway is going to re-introduce the VAT, and in a progressive way, that is, the more expensive the car, the higher the VAT rate. This will have the effect of discouraging the sales of all EVs, but especially that of larger, more expensive EVs. Having fewer large and heavy vehicles will make streets safer for pedestrians and bicycle riders, in line with the country's Vision Zero policy.
In the capital, Oslo, the Vision Zero policy has resulted in zero traffic deaths in 2020. They achieved this stunning success by building out safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, but especially by reducing the number of cars on the streets. Noway wants zero traffic deaths in the whole country, and reducing the number of cars everywhere will go a long way to achieving that, because car drivers are the cause of the majority of traffic deaths.
This graphic shows who dies in traffic on European roads in 2019, and who caused those traffic deaths. Data from the European Commission.
CelloDad says the Norwegian government is manipulative. Of course they are. But corporations also manipulate you, through their ads, only they do it mostly for the purpose of selling their stuff to you. If Norway's government uses incentives to nudge Norwegians into doing the thing that is right for their health, for the planet, for the health of their communities, then more power to them. Note that they didn't ban the sale of gas or diesel cars (they will do that in 2025); they merely made EVs irresistible.
Let's see how long the rest of us take to catch up with them.