If anyone wants to know how to transition from conventional cars to electric cars in a short amount of time, just take a look at Norway. Over the past 8 years or so, it has aggressively promoted the transition to EVs by eliminating the fees and taxes that normally apply at the time of purchase. That’s a big deal, but so are a lot of other small incentives that add up to big money over time.
EV drivers in Norway are permitted to use bus and taxi lanes to avoid traffic. They pay lower bridge and tunnel tolls (Norway has lots of both), lower ferry fees, reduced tolls, and lower parking fees. With so many incentives, it’s no wonder that in Norway nearly 85% of all new cars come with plugs.
But just as officials in the UK are suggesting that country should reduce its electric car incentives, the Norwegian public road administration is suggesting that some of the advantages conferred on EV drivers be removed. Part of the reason for the proposal is to reduce the number of cars on Norwegian roads and encourage more people to take advantage of public transportation.
In a letter to the Ministry of Transport, the public road administration suggests that electric cars no longer be allowed to use dedicated bus and taxi lanes. In addition, EVs today pay only 50% of the tolls that drivers of conventional cars do. The proposal would increase that to 70% until 2025, when lower tolls for EV drivers would be eliminated completely, provided that only zero emissions new cars could be sold in Norway by that date. Parking fees, which are regulated by local municipalities, would be increased for electric car drivers as well.
According to Electric, Road Director Ingrid Dahl Hovland said in a statement, “An electric car is also a car that takes up space in traffic. We want to reduce car traffic in cities. With half a million electric cars on the roads, we are approaching a point where we need to think about phasing out the toll benefits.”
The Ministry of Transport is already considered abolishing or reducing privileges for electric vehicles. A few weeks ago, the Norwegian government announced in its supplementary budget that it would abolish the VAT exemption for electric cars costing more than 500,000 kroner (equivalent to just under 49,000 euros at present) as of January 1, 2023.
A Declaration of War!
The proposals from the road administration don’t sit well with the Norwegian EV Association, which calls them a “declaration of war on both the climate and the important investment in electric cars.” Unni Berge, head of communication and public relations at the association, said, “When the Norwegian Public Road Administration proposes to abolish the environmental rebate in the toll ring, it is actually strengthening the competitiveness of the fossil car.”
The move may be anathema to the association, but the larger point is that the world is drowning in motor vehicles and at some point, the reign of private cars will need to come to an end as part of the quest to tamp down carbon emissions from all sources. While electric cars don’t spew crud out of tailpipes, they are still responsible for plenty of emissions in the manufacturing phase. The proposals by the Norwegian road administration may foreshadow a coming public policy debate about the place of the private passenger car in daily life going forward.
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