Are Hansen, our ace reporter on the ground in Norway, got in touch the other day to alert us to the latest news from Elbil, the Norwegian Electric Car Association. If Norway is a leader in the EV revolution, Oslo is ground zero for the movement. One of the benefits that electric car drivers in Oslo are entitled to is reduced tolls on the highways leading in and out of that city.
The tolls are collected by Fjellinjen, which is able to slice and dice the data collected from the system to spot trends. It reports that in September, 28.1% of the cars using the toll roads were light electric vehicles. In the same month, light vehicles powered by gasoline engines clocked in at 28%.
Is a 0.1% difference significant? Yes it is. We tend to focus on new vehicle sales numbers. In Norway, those numbers show that cars with plugs are taking over nearly all of the new car market, but it takes a while for the transition to EVs to filter down to the street level. Norway, like every other country, still has enormous numbers of older cars on its roads that are powered by gasoline and diesel engines. It will take a generation or so for all those cars to be replaced.
Europe in general embraced diesel-powered cars after the OPEC oil embargoes of the 1970s. If you go to any city on the Continent today, the clickety-clack of diesel engines is heard everywhere. In fact, the latest toll data shows that 36.2% of all cars passing through toll stations in and around Oslo are diesels. But a few years ago, that number would have been much higher. Elbil says it expects the number of electric cars on the road will surpass the number of diesels in about 3 years.
No Slowing Down
Oslo plans to ramp up its electric car policies over the next few years. It has recently decreased tolls for electric cars, which pay only 30% of the normal toll during regular hours and 40% during rush hour. The city is also planning to increase funding for EV charging infrastructure significantly from 35.5 million NOK annually this year to 61.5 million NOK in 2023 and 2024.
Advocates are calling for the city to pay more attention to the needs of those who do not have a dedicated parking space at home. “It is very good that the city council is now putting money and energy into the charging offer. But the city council must also remember to use this increase to expand charging for those who do not have their own parking space, so that they also choose an electric car,” Per Maltun, leader of the Oslo and Akershus electric car association, tells Elbil. He says access to chargers where people park at night is a significant factor in the decision to switch to an electric car.
With its aggressive EV friendly policies, Oslo may soon be the first city in the world with no gasoline- and diesel-powered cars on its roads.