Elbil? (That’s Norwegian for electric vehicle)

By Jessica Fisher, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, WWF-Canada 
With roughly 3,000 electric vehicles currently on the road in Canada, innovators and early adopters are already demonstrating that driving electric cars is a realistic alternative to conventional gas-powered cars.  But to reach the masses with this message, Canada can learn a lesson or two from EV successes in other countries.
I was in Norway this spring, where the all-electric Nissan Leaf was recently amongst the best selling cars in that country. With over 10,000 electric cars in a country of 5 million, EVs are increasingly seen as the mainstream. (Europeans have the right idea… Check out this funny EV video!)
On my walkabout of Oslo it didn’t take long before I noticed that EVs were everywhere and stumbled upon free public charging stations.  I started to wonder, why were there so many more EVs in Norway than Canada? When I got back from my trip, I looked into it a bit more and found out that the Norwegian government has helped to push EV momentum through a suite of tax and usage benefits, a few of which also exist in Canada.

An electric vehicle in Oslo. © WWF-Canada
An electric vehicle in Oslo. © WWF-Canada

First, the price of gas is much higher in Norway, where Norweigians pay the equivalent of $2.20/L – imagine how attractive an electric car (that costs about $2 a day to charge) would be if you were paying NEARLY TWICE AS MUCH AS YOU DO NOW at the pump?
Second, vehicles in Norway are subject to a higher tax rate than vehicles in Canada (up to 25% sales tax) that decreases as vehicles become more fuel efficient (and release less pollution) – because of this, hybrids and electric cars have another advantage!
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Finally, there are other benefits for EVs in Norway that make driving electric a no-brainer, including preferred/free parking and access to high-occupancy lanes or toll roads for free.
Canada and Norway are not so different: both are industrialized countries rich in resources, active in oil and gas development and facing the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Norway’s early success with EVs should serve as inspiration to transform how people drive in Canada.
ev in oslo 3
Remember, too, that as more EV models are introduced, the range increases, and more people get familiar with them, we won’t need to subsidize them – they just make good sense. But for now, we want to give EVs – and our air, and our climate – a fighting chance.
Learn more about whether an EV may be right for you.