Figures show that more than half of Norway’s new cars being sold in 2017 were electric or hybrid, moving the country closer to carbon-free (or at least carbon-reduced) transport.
All-electric as well as a few hydrogen-powered cars with zero-emission rating made up 20.9% of total sales in 2017, according to official figures released on Wednesday. Hybrid vehicles accounted for 31.3%, including 18.4% for plug-in hybrids, the Norwegian Road Federation calculated.
This represents an increase over the previous year, when zero-emission and hybrid cars accounted for 15.7% and 24.5% respectively of total sales, making Norway a world leader in electrifying road transport.
Even though (or precisely because) they’re the biggest producer of oil in western Europe, Norway has set itself the ambitious goal of selling only new zero-emission cars starting from 2025. That means they need to pump up sales from 21% market share to 100% in seven years.
Christina Bu, secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association welcomes the new figures compared to 2016, deeming them satisfactory and in line with projected market shifts.
Unlike diesel or gasoline cars, which are heavily taxed, electric cars benefit from a very generous tax system, making their purchase prices relatively competitive. Their owners also enjoy many privileges such as free city tolls, ferries, parking and recharging in public car parks, as well as having the right to drive in bus lanes.
Authorities plan to gradually reduce some measures whose benefits and costs are disputed by critics.
Critics still point out that electric vehicles can not (at this time) become a global phenomenon as their production is still very environmentally destructive and requires refined, light and rare materials.
Electric cars need to be light, which means they include a lot of high-performing metals. The lithium in the batteries, for example, is super light and conductive—that’s how you get a lot of energy without adding a lot of weight. Other, rare metals are sprinkled throughout the car, mostly in the magnets that are in everything from the headlights to the on-board electronics.
But those rare metals come from somewhere—often, from environmentally destructive mines. All electric vehicles rely on parts with similar environmental issues. Even solar panels depend on rare metals that have to be dug out of the earth and processed in less-than-green ways, says David Abraham, author of the book The Elements of Power.
The other major obstacle is the almost non-existent charging infrastructure in countries that haven’t adopted the carbon-free path yet, especially those where petrol is comparatively cheap relative to people’s paychecks.
But Norway seems to be spearheading the movement quite nicely, and they deserve to be commended for it.