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The Benchmark for EV Adoption - what we can learn from Norway?

14 OCTOBER 2021 • 8 MIN READ

Piotr Majcher



The Benchmark for EV Adoption - what we can learn from Norway?

The Benchmark for EV Adoption - what we can learn from Norway?

Anyone who’s ever gotten into any e-mobility related topic must have at least once seen some words praising Norway for how far it’s gone into the mass EV adoption. Being on top of the most electric vehicles rankings, Norway has been heralded by many as being at the forefront of e-mobility. Sceptics would argue that it’s solely on the fact that it’s a relatively small and well-off country but there’s a lot more to it.

Let’s break it down a bit. But first we shall see what it really looks like in numbers.

E-Mobility in Norway

While presenting numerical data, it is vital to take into consideration the aforementioned size of a country. Namely, focusing strictly on how many are registered does not give an accurate representation for adoption rates as it only considers one aspect: sales numbers from cars manufactured in that same year. What matters more here is what percentage these types make up overall automotive production across all vehicle categories each month or annually. And here is where Norway shines ever-more year on year.

Our Scandinavian e-mobility hero has been ruling the rankings for a few years now with the EV shares figures oscillating at levels as follows:
(Mind you, that certain sources may show slight differences)

  • 2018; 32.2% of passenger car sales
  • 2019: 42.4% of passenger car sales
  • 2020: 54% of passenger car sales

Not to mention the groundbreaking record noted in September 2021, where battery electric vehicles made up 77.5% market share.

It’s a precedent never seen before in any other country, even if some giants (like USA or China) have sold more in terms of pure numbers. Now, what has led Norway in that direction and what actions have impacted the popularity of EVs so much?

Road to mass EV adoption - lessons to learn from Norway.

Environmental policies

Norway has been at the center of climate change action for decades. They got there by being one of Europe's biggest gas and oil producers, which forced them to regulate greenhouse gases more than any other country in order to protect themselves while still leading on sustainable energy initiatives. It was back in 1990 when the CO2 tax was implemented and the country began to focus on establishing a greener transport system. The newly gained funds from this new source were used for sustainable development initiatives such as cleaner diesel engines, electric cars or promoting public transportation usage among others.

Car tax policies and governmental incentives

It goes without saying that the Norwegian government is the absolute leader in advocating for electric vehicles amongst its citizens. Starting with the ultimate goal of going fully green by 2025. What’s vital to mention here is that they aim to reach this ambitious goal by strongly incentivizing on electric transformation rather than banning the combustion engines.

We can find numerous benefits that come from utilizing an EV in Norway, amongst which, we can find:

  • No purchase/import taxes
  • Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase
  • No annual road tax
  • Parking fee for EVs was introduced locally with an upper limit of a maximum 50% of the full price
  • Access to bus lanes
  • Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing

The current liberal-conservative coalition in power is pro-business and pro-free market, making it relatively easy for EVs to be adopted, which can be clearly observed in the approach to EVs.

Charging infrastructure

Last but certainly not least, amazing charging infrastructure plays a huge role in the success behind electric vehicles popularity. As for a rather small and relatively rural state, Norway has set the bar very high in terms of charging stations availability across the country, allowing for seamless journeys. Knowing the significance of reducing the range anxiety in order to encourage people to drive electric, Norway stood up to the challenge. To help make this happen they launched a program where every 50 km on all main roads will have at least one fast charging station. By 2017, they had successfully increased the amount of charging stations to around 1,500, from previously having approximately 300 in 2014. It is now estimated that there are more than 16,000 charging stations, including 3,300 fast chargers, all over the country.

Three pillars of EV adoption to follow

As much as there is a lot more to EV adoption than just environmental policies, suitable pro-green taxes and well-developed charging infrastructure, these are definitely things that play indisputably huge roles in adopting electric vehicles on a mass scale. In addition, having a government that is pro-business and supports free market policies helps in making EVs more affordable for the masses. Certainly, it’s all not easy to implement and cannot be done overnight, but just looking at how far Norway has come, there is no doubt that such actions work.