When There’s a Will, There’s a Way? Oslo Is the Electric Vehicle Capital of the World

This electric car loves Oslo.

Oslo City Council's commitment to electric vehicles, and their record numbers on its roads, are second to none. What lies behind such an impressive growth? What's the city's secret, and can it be reproduced elsewhere?

Author Annalisa Dorigo, 03.06.17

Translation Annalisa Dorigo:

Oslo City Council’s commitment to electric vehicles, and their record numbers on its roads, are second to none. What lies behind such an impressive growth? What’s the city’s secret, and can it be reproduced elsewhere?

The growth in electric vehicle (EV) use in Norway has been pretty remarkable of late. With a population of just five million, by December 2016 the country boasted over 100,000 electric vehicles on its roads, making it number one in the world in terms of electric cars per capita. This boost has been driven by concerns such as pollution, carbon emissions, climate change, and most importantly, a concerted political will to do something about it.

The country aims to become carbon neutral by 2050, and other green transport commitments are also working in the same direction.

Why Are EVs so Popular in Oslo?

As of summer 2015, the City of Oslo alone (population 650,000) had over 19,000 EVs on its roads. Through a raft of incentives, and the application of ‘polluter pays’ principles on its gas guzzling cars, the city has been able to entice more and more people to go electric.

Free parking, free charging at public stations, free access to bus lanes, toll exemptions, and no sales tax have all allowed EVs to position themselves as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel cars, which have been hit with increasing taxation.

Add to that the city’s support for EV infrastructure and charging stations, with public funding for new chargers set up by private companies and voila: the remarkable rise of the EV in Oslo is partly explained.

The energy source is also key here. Norway’s abundant renewable and non-renewable energy sources enable it to subsidise the charging of electric cars at public stations. From an environmental point of view however, EV policy can be deemed a success only if supported entirely by renewable energy. Oslo EV drivers are fortunate to be able to rely on the abundant hydro-power energy that powers the city, making their EV fleet one of the cleanest in the world.

 Sigurd Rage Around 95% of Norway’s power is hydroelectric.

However, research on EV use in Norway reveals that EV vehicles tend not to replace, but are bought in addition to a main car, with only 21% of EV owners relying on the one vehicle, whereas 71% also own a petrol or diesel vehicle. So although EVs are becoming more mainstream, it would seem that, possibly due to ‘range’ concerns (away from city centres, and in the more remote corners of the country people are justifiably more worried about running out of charge) people are not yet fully committed to them.

Could It Happen Elsewhere?

While Oslo’s policy success might seem like a happy mix of zero-emissions-vehicles incentives, charging station subsidies, ‘polluters pay’ penalties and an abundance of renewable energy sources, none of this would be possible without the political will and courage of local and national government officials to go down a road less travelled.

As the renewable energy share of the market continues to grow, and as EV technology also becomes more competitive, successful zero-emissions transport policies, air-quality improvements, and carbon emissions reductions needn’t be exceptional outcomes in exceptional places.

Given the consensus on climate change and man-made emissions, the growing momentum in the ‘fossil fuels divest’ movement, and the notoriety of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the public have probably never been so ready to embrace electric mobility. While at the European level an incumbent car industry is still managing to delay the unavoidable in some respects, Oslo shows us that bold politics at the local level can and do work.

The future looks bright for e-mobility. Want to find out which countries are leading the way, how electric vehicles are now holding their own against the rest of the market, and what innovative startups are doing to keep e-mobility moving forward? You can find all the articles here: RESET Special E-Mobility.

E-Mobility: Where Is It Taking Us?

Climate change, particulate pollution, C02 emissions: If we're to make a switch from fossil fuels to clean energy, the transport sector needs to find new concepts, alternative energy sources, and innovative solutions. Not just because our stocks of fossil fuels are dwindling, but most importantly because burning them emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

Sharing Is Caring: The Rise of Electric Scooters

First came bike sharing schemes, then electric car sharing systems started gaining in popularity. Now several large cities around the world are rolling out electric scooter sharing services. Will this be the new vehicle of choice for urban dwellers?

Good Charging Infrastructure Could Put an End to Range Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for electric mobility to catch on? The main suspect: range anxiety, the fear of getting stranded with a flat battery. But with sufficient charging infrastructure and a rethink of the way we refuel, we could easily make it a thing of the past. There are enough good solutions available - we just have to put them into practice.

fotolia_c_wellphoto
Fotolia/ wellphoto
Green From A to B: Join the E-Mobility Revolution

Looking for greener ways to get from A to B? Then it's about time you welcomed e-mobility into your life. We've taken a look at the best ways you can get involved, and the apps and technologies that are there to help.

How Green Is E-Mobility? It All Depends on the Power Source and Where the Battery Ends Up

Electric vehicles are currently touted as the most eco-friendly way to get from A to B. But what's the truth behind their supposedly green credentials? We've taken a closer look at their life cycle to see how they really shape up.

Wireless Wonder: The Electric Car Of The Future Will Charge Itself

Calling itself "the future of wireless power", Blue Inductive has made a bold statement. But maybe there's something in it. The German startup, based in Freiburg, has developed a technology that allows electric cars to be charged not just quickly but completely cable-free.

Totus Power: The Electric Cars (Em)powering Schools In India

What do schools in India, tablet computers, and electric racing cars have in common? Well, a lot more than you might think. A new social enterprise has set out to tackle the issue of power cuts in schools by powering computers and other gadgets using recycled electric car batteries. 

Elbnb: Charge Your Car at (Someone Else’s) Home

A Swedish platform allows electric car drivers to charge their vehicles in private homes, at a cost determined by the homeowner.

Back to the Future with eHighway Trucks

Carbon emissions and local air pollution are set to greatly reduce through innovation in road freight transport: electrification is the way to go. Siemens has been testing out a new eHighway system to reduce transport's impact on the environment.