Norwegians Snapping Up Electric Cars

If we had these perks in the US, drivers might cozy up to electric vehicles (EVs) much faster: no tolls, free use of bus lanes, free parking, free ferry rides and free charging at thousands of  municipal stations. That’s why Norwegians are snapping them up in addition to having to pay about $9 for a gallon of gas. 

Probably the biggest incentive is that EVs are exempt from new car taxes, which can double or triple the cost of a car. Owners also don’t have to pay a 25% VAT (value-added tax) in the purchase price. Combined, these make EVs competitively priced with gas vehicles. And they pay lower prices for insurance.

What was considered an ambitious target of selling 50,000 EVs by 2018, now looks easily achievable by next year, reports National Public Radio (NPR). 1 out of 100 people now own an EV, the highest per capita in the world – 5.6% of new car sales in 2013.

In a country of 5 million people, about 25,000 EVs are currently registered and with sales over 1,200 a month, they add up to more than 10% of car purchases.

And once they take the leap, Norwegians love EVs, noting how quiet they are and how good they are for the environment (almost 100% of electricity comes from hydropower).

The problem? Bus lanes and charging stations are clogged with EVs.

Norway EV Charging
Sidsel Overgaard /NPR

"Norway is a hopeless country,"Snorre Sletvold of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, told NPR. "We have a cold climate, we have a lot of long distances, we have difficult topography." And yet, it is  the "kingdom of EV."

In particular, Norwegians love the Nissan LEAF and Tesla’s Model S.

In the US, about 70,000 EVs are registered with a population of 313 million, and just 5,000 have sold in the UK where 63 million people live. The US federal government offers a one-time tax credit of $7,500 and some states add additional incentives: 

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