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Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Norwegian Electric Car User Findings (10 Charts)

December 3rd, 2013 by  

Norway has the highest number of electric cars in the world. But it seems that news is just getting onto people’s radars. If you didn’t notice, my story the other day about electric cars becoming the top sellers in Norway was a rather popular one. As of right now, it has received over 116,000 pageviews — definitely one of our best articles of the year. In that piece, I noted that I’d be sharing more of what I learned about Norway’s electric vehicle (EV) leadership and market in a handful of additional stories, and I used a chart from a study that I want to dig into now.

The chart I used (below), showed that the most important EV incentives for Norwegian EV owners (in order) were:

  1. Free toll roads
  2. No vehicle purchase tax
  3. Low fuel costs
  4. Access to bus lanes
  5. Free parking
  6. Low annual road fee
  7. Free charging & the EV charging network
  8. Free ferries

most important EV incentives Norway

But there were a number of other interesting findings from this study, a study which garnered the responses of 1,858 EV users. I’ll just run down most of them through charts and brief comments. For even more, check out the full study.

Interestingly, EV ownership is spread all around the geographically large country. I anticipated it would be centered in just a few large cities, but it’s actually quite distributed.

EV Norway distribution

Not very surprisingly, only 15% of the surveyed EV owners had just one car.

cars in household

Importantly, EVs replace other cars. They are pulling people away from mass transit and human-powered transportation a little bit, but not to a great degree.

EVs replace cars

When asked how much an electric vehicle replaced a conventional car, 90% said completely or to a high degree. (Of course, 35% is far more than the 15% that own only one car, indicating a lot of room for people to ditch their extra cars.)

replacing gasmobiles

Matching the reality of EVs versus gasmobiles, the large majority (~90%) agree that their EVs have low running costs, and the majority agree that their EVs save them time. I’m actually curious about the 10% who didn’t agree that their EVs had low running costs. Norway has cheap electricity (from hydro power plants) and expensive gas — who would say that they don’t have low running costs? But I guess that 10% could more or less be people who switched from public transit, biking, walking, or carpooling. Or perhaps they’re just the negative type.

low running costs

One of the most interesting ones to me: when asked why they switched to an electric car, a strong percentage did actually say to save the environment (29%). More in line with what I’d expect, most of the remaining respondents said to save money (41%) and to save time (22%).

why switch to electric car

Grooving with owner satisfaction surveys in the US, a whopping 91% of survey respondents were “very satisfied” with their electric vehicles, and they other 9% were at least “satisfied.” Only 7 respondents were less than satisfied, but that just amounts to a rounding error.

satisfied with electric car

Asked to guess what is most important for others to buy electric vehicles, survey responses were quite mixed, but longer EV range and predictable EV policy were clearly number one and two. However, whether or not those really are the most important factors is anything but a certainty.

EV incentives

Importantly, 95% of owners can charge their cars at home over night (~85% at their own house and ~10% at a shared apartment building). This shows the need to roll out charging stations out more multi-family developments, and also to increase public and work charging stations enough that home charging isn’t so critical. We’ve seen similar results in the US, and it’s a expected finding.

access to charging

There’s not much there that’s shocking, but it does help to confirm US EV survey findings and common assumptions, and there were a few minor surprises — for me at least.

Keep an eye on all my EVS 27 coverage here, and also keep a close eye on the latest Norway cleantech news.

Or simply keep an eye on our electric vehicles channel or subscribe to our free electric vehicle newsletter for all the hottest electric vehicle news and commentary.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Zach…cool article, just one typo I think…

    “Norway has cheap electricity (from hydro power plants) and expensive gas”

    I think this was meant to say inexpensive gas.

    • Johnny Le

      No, he meant expensive gas. That’s why it’s low running costs for EV and high running costs for ICE cars.

  • Will E

    what EV technic needs is induction charge while driving in the highways.
    no need for bigger battery packs.
    unlimited range

    • Bob_Wallace

      Something that needs to be studied. There’s a new design which allows for inductive charging while moving (most inductive systems are stationary).

      It well could be that it would make more sense to minimize the battery pack size (e.g., 100 mile range) and use charging-while-rolling for long distance driving. When one considers how few of our driving days are greater than 100 miles purchasing and hauling extra range may not make sense.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a way to deliver power to moving vehicles using simple electronic components, rather than the expensive power electronics or complex sensors
        previously employed. The system uses a specialized receiver that induces a burst of power only when a vehicle passes over a wireless
        transmitter. Initial models indicate that placing charging coils in 10
        percent of a roadway would extend the driving range of an EV from about 60 miles to 300 miles, says Srdjan Lukic, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at NCSU.”


        (There’s some bad news coming out re: Envia. Looks like we aren’t going to have a breakthrough from them. Zach is working up an article. Wireless might be the answer.)

    • Jouni Valkonen

      You should not be afraid of large batteries. Big EV batteries are good for the grid as a whole as they help stabilizing the grid, because big EV batteries can be charged only using off-peak power. This is especially important when the the share of wind power is getting over 50 % like in Denmark early 2020’s.

      Also big batteries allow fast supercharging. 200–300 km more range in 20 mins. This is convenient and sufficient so that there is no need for expensive inductive charging infrastructure.

      I think that the biggest problem with inductive highway charging is that the efficiency is very low. And it is very improbable that these low efficiency related technical challenges can be solved during the next 20 years.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Stationary inductive charging is about 97% efficient.

        A 3% energy loss on long trips.

        One would need to compare that to the energy lost by having to haul large batteries for every mile the vehicle travels, not just the long trips.

        • Jouni Valkonen

          Bob, please check your sources. In 2009 Koreans demonstrated inductive electric golf cart charging at low speeds that was 60 % efficient from 12 cm distance and 80 % efficient from 1 cm distance. http://www.gizmag.com/kaist-olev-electric-vehicle/12557/

          And as this was published in Gizmag, we never heard it again. In real world situations I would say that we are lucky if we get 30–50 % total efficiency.

          Inductive charging is really challenging for the materials. Maintaining highway road surfaces is expensive even without charging infrastructure.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Korea is running a couple of buses on a wired 18 mile route. 85% efficiency. 17cm air gap.

            They are using coils of wire buried 8″ below the road surface.


            The North Carolina technology was only recently published. I haven’t seen any efficiency numbers and at this point it seem to be only a lab top demo.

            If an EV uses 0.3 kWh/mile with 85% efficient inductive charger it would take 0.35 kWh/mile.

            $0.042/mile vs. $0.035/mile at $0.12/kWh. Carrying less battery weight would tighten that range some.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    EV sales keep getting better in Norway. In November 11.9 % of cars sold were electric. Tesla and Nissan are leading the pack. VW and BMW are newcomers.

    In November, EV Sales in Norway Exceed 10% For First Time Ever; Tesla Model S, LEAF and VW e-Up! Shine

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