Norway shows how to get people to plug in to an electric future
Just a couple of weeks back I reported in the Business section of the Irish Independent on how Norway and Ireland had started out on much the same EV footing a few years ago.
Apparently a number of people were shocked to discover that Norway now has 150,000 electric vehicles on its roads while we have - would you believe? - a paltry 3,200 in total.
Naturally, people asked why?
A recent piece in the Guardian summed up the reasons far more succinctly than I ever could so I thought it might be timely to summarise.
Among the reasons Norway is the 'undisputed world leader on electric cars' is the simple fact that electricity comes almost exclusively from it massive hydropower resource. So it is inexpensive. Fair enough.
But that is only part of the story. There are massive, practical incentives. So much so that nearly one-third of all new cars sold there are either fully electric or hybrid. It is forecast such car sales will rise to 40pc in 2018. But we have incentives (some quite recently) too. So why the gap?
The Guardian writer said: "In Oslo, the streets are filled with silent, gliding cars, from large ones such as the Tesla X to smaller models such as the Renault Zoe.
"For the drivers of these cars, the motivation is simple - they just make financial sense."
And that's the key for us in Ireland if we wish to seriously increase our usage of electric vehicles.
As an EV owner in Norway you don't pay import tax or VAT on plug-ins, saving thousands of euro.
Because electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel, running costs are low. Road tax is reduced - and will drop to zero this year.
Owning an EV means escaping many road tolls, ferry fees and city emissions charges. You can park for free and use some bus lanes.
Sure it's not a fairytale.
In October, the government sparked uproar with its proposal to end tax exemptions for the heaviest electric cars on the basis that wealthy buyers of large electric cars can afford to pay some import tax.
Despite all that the country plans to meet its goal: that 100pc of new cars will have zero emissions by 2025. That's just seven years away. Will they make it? I'm betting yes. They are really serious about electric vehicles.