Postcard from... Oslo


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The Independent Online

If you stand on certain street corners in the affluent suburbs of west Oslo, you’ll notice something odd about the bus lanes.

Every third or fourth vehicle is not a bus, but rather a car, and an electric one at that. This is because Norway is in the middle of an electric-car boom, with drivers taking advantage of a rule that lets them use bus lanes without penalty.

Norway offers the most generous tax breaks in Europe, with zero sales tax or VAT on electric cars, compared with up to £50,000 duty on luxury petrol models. And then there’s the free parking, free charging and toll-free motoring that electric-car owners enjoy.

This means cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S are a common sight in bus lanes. There are an estimated 35,000 electric cars in Norway, which in a nation of five million people is a surprisingly big chunk of motorists.

Petrol is still used more, but there’s been enough of an outcry from angry bus drivers that the country’s electrical-vehicle association has issued a code of conduct for electric-car drivers. You might think this love of green-friendly cars has something to do with a Scandinavian love of order, sensible public policy and saving the planet, but recent research says Norwegian drivers are more interested in saving money than saving the planet.