Plentiful charging stations, along with incentives by Norway to make owning and operating an electric vehicle cheaper than conventional cars, have driven demand, reports Giles Crosse
When the Norwegian city of Oslo formulated its CO2 emissions reduction plan in 2008, electric vehicles were a major part from the start. There was a clear plan to roll out charging stations to encourage EV ownership in the city, with the goal of having 400 on the road by 2011.
Today, Oslo is the biggest per capita market for EVs in the world, with 35,000 EVs in the greater Oslo area. A whopping 30% of all new cars sold in the city in 2015 and 2016 were EVs or plug-in hybrids, with 62,754 EVs registered n the greater Oslo area, and 1,300 charge points, with a goal of adding another 600 per year in each of the next three years. A whopping 39.2% of new cars sold in Norway in 2017 were EVs or plug-in hybrids.
Consumer demand throughout Norway has been driven by a raft of generous incentives introduced by the Norwegian government since 2009 to make owning and operating electric vehicles cheaper than their polluting equivalents.
While the UK is targeting 2040 for all new car sales to be zero emission, Norway has set 2025 as its deadline
These include no import tax, no VAT, free parking, free passing through the toll rings, access to bus lanes, and free transport on ferries.
The Norwegian government also embarked on a programme to establish of at least two fast-charging stations every 50 km on all main roads. While the UK is targeting 2040 for all new car sales to be zero emission, Norway has set 2025 as its deadline.
Marianne Mølmen, project manager of EV charging infrastructure for the city of Oslo, explains that Oslo's EVs charging has been free to users to date, as implementing a payment system would be more costly than the cash raised in revenues. But this year the city will introduce semi-fast charging stations, up to 22 kilowatts (kW), as a paid service.
“Our politicians have guaranteed electricity on normal chargers will remain free until the election next year,” says Mølmen. But she believes the market is now ready for a payment-based system.
Oslo looked at using lamp posts as charging points, but they were situated too far back to serve more than two cars, while charging cables would obstruct pedestrians. Crucially, Oslo standardized charging point operation.
It's important to switch the city fleet to EVs, and make sure zero-emission vehicles are specified when procuring services
“Our newer charging stations can be opened by any RFID [radio frequency identification] card, or by SMS,”says Mølmen. “ We don't register users; this may change if charging becomes paid for.”
Mølmen commends elements of the UK's strategy; she suggests updating building codes and regulations to help deliver charging points in new buildings. She also points to fiscal incentives; this way charging points will more likely be established on private grounds, helping businesses convert their fleets.
“It's important to implement EVs in public procurement; switch the city fleet to EVs, and make sure zero-emission vehicles are specified when procuring services,” she says.
She says the strategic focus should remain on the long term benefits for cities, including better air quality and a healthier environment.
This article is part of the in-depth Urban Transport briefing. See also:City of Oslo Norway electric vehicles