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A Tesla electric car in Son, Norway. Photo: Sigrid Harms/picture alliance via Getty Images

The demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in Norway — which accounted for nearly one-third of all new cars sold in the country in 2018 — has exceeded their supply, with some consumers having to wait until 2020 or beyond to get their EV of choice. Prices for used models of the most popular EVs are also seeing an uptick.

Why it matters: In a 2016 study, only 4% of Norwegian EV owners indicated that they might go back to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) in the future. The experience seems to prove what was observed in the case of the transition to smartphones: Once users adjust to newer technology — even at significantly higher costs — they don’t want to go back.

Background: Because renewable energy already accounts for an 98% of its electricity mix, Norway has tried to decarbonize further by focusing on other sectors, including road transportation, which produces about 17% of the country's carbon emissions.

Efforts started in the '90s with incentives for zero-emission vehicles in the form of tax breaks, parking-related subsidies, access to public transport lanes, toll roads, and ferries. EVs started to make greater inroads into the Norwegian market in 2012–2013, when larger EVs with longer driving ranges were introduced, thereby addressing consumers’ range-anxiety concerns. The introduction of Tesla’s Model S in particular switched things to a different gear.

  • A key enabler was Norway’s very high standard taxes for ICEVs, ranging from approximately 20% to 40% depending on the weight of the car and estimated emissions. The various subsidies stacked together along with this avoided tax chipped away at the incremental cost of an EV compared to a conventional ICEV.
  • The development of a public charging infrastructure further allayed the range anxiety of consumers.

The bottom line: The Norwegian experience with EVs seems to indicate four key takeaways: EVs become the preferred choice of most consumers once they try them; range anxiety can be addressed; the electricity grid was able to absorb the additional demand for electricity in the short run; and perhaps most important, temporary subsidies and incentives can kickstart the adoption of new green technology.

Magnus Korpaas is a professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Apurba Sakti is a research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.

Go deeper

Wall Street's wobble disrupts record stock market boom

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Monday interrupted a stretch of calm amid the historic stock market boom underway since March 2020.

Driving the news: Jitters were apparent nearly everywhere.

1 hour ago - Health

First Texas doctor sued for performing abortion in violation of new law

Abortion rights activists march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase Maryland, on Sept. 13, 2021, following the court's decision to uphold a stringent abortion law in Texas. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

A San Antonio physician is facing a lawsuit after he admitted performing an abortion considered illegal under Texas' new law.

Why it matters: The civil suit, filed by a convicted felon in Arkansas, against Alan Braid is the first such suit under the law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a pregnant person obtain an abortion after six weeks.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.

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