Electric cars turn more heads in Norway
by FFE EU News staff
The Nissan Leaf has once again topped new car registrations in Norway. For the second month in a row, the electric car (e-car) made up an unrivalled market share of 5.6% from its sales of 716 units in October.
Norwegian Electric Car Association president Snorre Sletvold said ‘Norway is showing the way out of oil dependence, or even addiction.’ However, as more people switch to e-cars, tax exemptions for buyers — which can exceed the price of the car — are also slowly costing the state.
About 15,000 electric cars are expected to roll out by the end of 2013, 10 times more than in other Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden. This number accounts for 7.2% of auto sales in October, which is 3.4% more than a year ago.
American Tesla S, Crown Prince Haakon’s personal pick, topped the list of e-car sales. New models from Volkswagen, BMW and Renault are also being anticipated in the country.
Part of the success of e-cars in Norway has been attributed to incentives implemented by the government in a bid to promote clean vehicles. E-cars, regardless of their price, are exempted from VAT and other high taxes, public parking fees and urban toll fees. In addition, they are also allowed to use bus lanes.
But Norwegian Road Federation executive Pål Bruhn said that the success of the cars will ‘depend on the authorities’ decision to keep these incentives in the long run.’ An agreement among political parties presently guarantees these incentives are in place until the end of 2017 or until the country’s e-car pool reaches 50,000 units.
But the incentives have also garnered controversy since some cars, like the Tesla S, could reach tax exemptions that exceed the price of the car itself. Car industry experts criticised the policy in specialised website www.bilnorge.no: ‘Thanks to politicians who didn’t know what they were doing and Norway’s car industry, which has blindly followed its suppliers… we are now assisting an electric car invasion that doesn’t have a very social character.’
Statistics Norway researcher Bjart Holtsmark also criticised the incentive policy, saying that it leads to financial losses for the state, failure to address fossil fuel use since electricity is still generated from fossil origin and the tendency for households to buy secondhand cars instead of supporting public transportation.
He said ‘Electric cars shouldn’t be subsidised at all. It would be smarter to use that money on research to develop better batteries.’