Electric cars take off in Norway

They speed past gas guzzlers in traffic, ignore congestion charges and get city centre parking for free.

In a country whose wealth is fuelled by oil, Oslo has become the world capital of the electric car.

"There are more electric cars per capita here than in any other capital of the world," said Rune Haaland, the head of the electric car users association Norstart, standing in a city centre car park forbidden to other car users.

Almost 4,000 of the small, clean and silent vehicles are on the roads of Norway, although they are found mainly in the cities, and the number is climbing as new models come onto the market.

From the tiny, locally-made Buddy, to the sporty Tesla, which can accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres (62 miles) in less than four seconds, all sorts of electric cars have taken to the roads of the Norwegian capital.

Norway may be one of the world's top fossil fuel exporters, but it has set ambitious climate policy objectives, aiming to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

"The electric car is a very important tool for that, knowing that 40 percent of our emissions come from the transport sector and 60 percent of those come from road transport," Transport Minister Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa told AFP.

According to some estimates, the country's 3,891 electric cars allow it to save over 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

To persuade drivers to switch to electric cars, Norway has introduced a string of incentive measures.

Electric cars can use bus lanes and thus bypass traffic jams, they don't have to shell out congestion charges and can park for free on municipal car parks.

New father Christian Blakseth traded his bicycle for an electric car.

"It's very advantageous to be able to park for free downtown and to escape traffic jams," the young train conductor said.

"And you don't get drowned in day-to-day spending: it's a car that is expensive to buy but cheap to use," he said.

Charging an electric car's batteries at home costs about two euros ($2.90). Norwegian petrol prices are among the highest in Europe.

With growing demand, carmakers are rushing to put out new models.

And consumers are responding with just as much enthusiasm: in the first quarter this year, an electric car, Mitsubishi's i-MiEV, topped small model car sales in Norway, ahead of all time favorites.

"We were planning to sell 400 units (cars) in Norway this year, and we are already at 700. We think we will ultimately reach 1,000," the head of Mitsubishi Norway Bernt Jessen said.

Despite technological advances, distance remains a problem for electric vehicles, however, with cars only able to go for around 150 kilometres before needing to be recharged.

And with Norway's cold winters slashing battery efficiency, optimal performance is hard to achieve.

To get around this obstacle, Norway has decided to put in place a national network of charging stands across the country allowing drivers to "fill up" their cars in about 20 minutes, just long enough to enjoy a roadside cup of coffee, compared to the seven or eight hours normally needed.

The mountain cottage, sacrosanct for Norwegians, could soon be only a few kilowatts away.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital & Print Designer

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast-growing company speci...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Analyst

    £17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Riding of Yorkshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Ridi...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable