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Published on June 10th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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Teslabjorn’s Facebook Post Highlights The Startling Norway-Zimbabwe Paradox

June 10th, 2020 by  


Bjorn Nyland (aka Teslabjorn) wanted to use the PlugShare App as a map for one of his now famous electric road trips, but he realized the map would just be too cluttered, as Norway has a lot of fast chargers! Ah yes, first world problems, in Bjorn’s words.

Norway is really a world leader when it comes to the adoption of electric vehicles. Norway’s EV adoption curve is so impressive that clean vehicles market share for April hit 70%, Yes, 70%! This is all very interesting when you think that oil exports account for 27% of Norway’s total external trade. 55% of oil globally is consumed in the transport sector. Norway’s exports meet 2% of the world’s oil demands. So there is no shortage of fossil fuels to power ICE vehicles in Norway.

On the flip side, fuel imports account for a massive 30% of Zimbabwe’s total import bill! Zimbabwe imports fuel worth about $1.2 billion annually. That is excluding the millions spent on importing ICE vehicle spare parts and engine oils, etc.. Zimbabwe has been blending petrol with ethanol to try and cut down petrol imports. Ethanol blending thresholds vary throughout the year from 5% to 15% depending on the availability of locally produced ethanol, whose production is seasonal. Zimbabwe has been experiencing a prolonged petrol and diesel shortage for 3 years and counting, with no solution in sight. Zimbabwe is struggling to raise foreign currency to import these fossil fuels. So spending 30% of its hard earned foreign currency by literally burning it in ICE vehicles is not ideal.

Zimbabwe earns most of its foreign currency from exporting its mining and agricultural products. After working on the farms and mines for several months, all those hard earned US dollars are literally gone in 60 seconds, and the byproducts (all those exhaust fumes) are not good for the environment. Filling up an ICE vehicle’s tank can also be quite a challenge in Zimbabwe. It could involve waiting in a queue at a petrol station for a day or two! Charging EVs overnight at homes or at office parks and malls whilst they’re parked could help solve this problem.

Norway has led the way with a ton of incentives to encourage EV adoption, listed below as summarized by the Norwegian EV Association

The Norwegian EV incentives:

  • No purchase/import taxes (1990-)
  • Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase (2001-)
  • No annual road tax (1996-)
  • No charges on toll roads or ferries (1997- 2017).
  • Maximum 50% of the total amount on ferry fares for electric vehicles (2018-)
  • Maximum 50% of the total amount on toll roads (2019)
  • Free municipal parking (1999- 2017)
  • Parking fee for EVs was introduced locally with an upper limit of a maximum 50% of the full price (2018-)
  • Access to bus lanes (2005-).
  • New rules allow local authorities to limit the access to only include EVs that carry one or more passengers (2016)
  • 50 % reduced company car tax (2000-2018).
  • Company car tax reduction reduced to 40% (2018-)
  • Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing (2015)
  • Fiscal compensation for the scrapping of fossil vans when converting to a zero-emission van (2018)
  • Allowing holders of driver license class B to drive electric vans class C1 (light lorries) up to 4250 kg (2019).

These incentives have had a massive impact on EV adoption in Norway, and it’s really good to see Norway leading the way. Zimbabwe is struggling to find fuel for the more than 1.5 million ICE vehicles on its roads, but does not have incentives for EVs at the moment. Surely it would make more sense for Zimbabwe to be at the forefront of incentivizing EV adoption to solve its fuel crisis. Norway could have easily chosen the easy option and continued to just enjoy combusting more of some of their local oil products, and there we have the paradox!

In the absence or EV incentives and the fact that official car dealerships in Zimbabwe have yet to bring EVs to their showrooms, EV fans and early adopters have resorted to importing some EVs on their own. Despite the daily 18-hour power cuts, it has been shown that living with an EV in Zimbabwe is much easier than people would think it is. Living with EVs in countries with frequent power outages such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, or South Africa has also been discussed here.

Living with EVs in countries with frequent power outages such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, or South Africa (video)

The majority of vehicles imported into Zimbabwe are used cars from Japan and the United Kingdom. Over 7 million electric passenger vehicles are now on the road worldwide, according to the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 from BloombergNEF. There are also now over 500,000 e-buses, almost 400,000 electric delivery vans and trucks, 184 million electric mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles on the road globally. This means there is now a good inventory of used EVs on the market. Used EVs would come in at a price point that is more acceptable for car buyers in this market. Adding Norway-style incentives, such as reducing import duties and taxes on EVs, would certainly catalyze adoption. Then we will be in a similar position to Bjorn. Too many fast chargers on my map!

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Image courtesy Max Holland, CleanTechnica

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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



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