Norway’s Electric Vehicle Revolution: A Model for the World?

Norway's Electric Vehicle and charging facilites

Norway leads the way in the world of EVs. Image: Shutterstock/Markopolo

IN December 2022, more than 80 per cent of the new cars purchased in Norway were electric. What can we learn from the country’s experience in scaling up its electric vehicle charging infrastructure to meet this demand? Norway leads the world in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). According to an article by Electric cars account for over 20 per cent of passenger vehicles in the country, with over 80 per cent of new vehicles sold being electric.

The country’s effective economic and social incentives, reliable electric grid, and demographics have contributed to the success of EV adoption. On the other hand, scaling up Norway’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI) to keep pace with its growing demand has proven to be more problematic. In this article, we take a look at the ups and downs of Norway’s EV journey.

The Path to EV Adoption in Norway

Since the 1990s, the Norwegian government has been taking steps to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. It was one of the first countries to create tax incentives for electric vehicle purchases. EVs are exempt from purchase taxes and value-added tax (VAT), while gasoline and diesel cars are subject to high taxes. Other consumer-oriented incentives followed, from toll reduction to free municipal parking and the use of bus lanes. EVs are exempt from public road tolls and ferry charges for example.

Norway has made an effort to raise public awareness and understanding of electric vehicles through a number of campaigns and initiatives. They even encourage schools in Norway to teach about EVs!

Norway has a strong track record of innovation in the EV sector, with a number of Norwegian companies leading the development of new EV technologies. This has helped to drive down the cost of EVs and make them more competitive with gasoline and diesel cars.

Another factor contributing to Norway’s successful adoption is its abundant hydroelectric power, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the country’s power generation. This clean energy source supports a stable power system that provides reliable and low-cost power for electric vehicles.

Norwegian public charging stations benefit from a reliable electric grid, as well as the relatively high percentage of single-family homes capable of charging an electric vehicle.

Charging Infrastructure Expansion in Norway

Norway’s EVCI is rapidly expanding to meet its growing demand. To date, more than 22,000 public chargers have been installed to serve over half a million electric vehicles on the country’s roads. More chargers are quickly popping up in shopping centres, gyms, universities, and along motorways.

In several urban service stations with limited space, compact EV chargers are replacing much larger gas tanks and pumps. However, expansion has not come without significant growing pains, and scaling the system will take some time.

Norway’s Drive to Expand Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Many of Norway’s public electric vehicle charging sites reflect the relatively rapid adoption of electric vehicles in the country and the sometimes ad-hoc approaches taken to meet the resulting charging demand. These circumstances have contributed to Norway’s highly fragmented current system of electric vehicle charging stations.

A closer look at this market reveals the benefits of taking early and decisive action to create a scalable strategy, informed by deep insights and bolstered by strong yet flexible technological and operational capabilities. It took four years to sell the first 10,000 EVs in Norway, between 2008 and 2011, which is the same number of electric vehicles sold in approximately four weeks in 2022, illustrating the acceleration in EV adoption. This helped trigger an increase in demand for charging stations.

There is a variety of public charging providers to choose from in Norway, and this in itself causes another problem: customers find it inconvenient to manage multiple mobile apps. Widespread system failures, including limited options for direct payment, poorly designed parking locations, short charging cables, and malfunctioning hardware, frustrate customers and can increase their charger availability anxiety. In the latest annual survey of electric vehicle charging in Norway, half of the respondents stated that fast chargers occasionally do not work.

In addition to customer patience and charger availability anxiety, Norway’s highly scattered electric vehicle charging system and the relatively low number of chargers per site create queues and extended wait times. Larger sites with higher concentrations of chargers are needed, rather than smaller sites scattered throughout the country.

Meeting the Growing Demand for EV Charging

However, operators in Norway are now course-correcting, introducing a range of large, specially designed electric vehicle charging sites in high-use locations, especially along motorways.

Analysis has shown that charger utilisation depends largely on the time of day and the charger’s location. Electric vehicle charging utilisation is hyper-local. The utilisation of a charger located in the same block as a busy café or cinema could be significantly different from that of a charger located two blocks away from these places.

What’s Happening in Spain?

According to Statista, in 2022 over 30,500 battery-electric cars were sold in Spain along with 4,800 diesel and petrol plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. As the zero-emission vehicle market is emerging in Spain what can they learn from Norway?

According to Electromaps, there are around 12,149 charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Spain with Madrid leading the way as the city with the most. A lot of Spanish coastal towns have seen the installation of electric charging stations with Ionity recently installing a high-speed charging station in La Zenia. According to reports users have experienced a range of problems with this company in Norway.

As this market grows in Spain is it time to stand back and create a strategy for the installation and management of the charging stations. Rather than allowing a number of private companies to pop up and create the problems experienced in Norway? Let us know what you think in the comments. Would you buy an electric car? If you have one what suggestions would you give the Spanish government about how to scale the implementation?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!


    • Joseph Mc Geer

      08 November 2023 • 13:41

      I would love an electric car.. Need more and more charging stations though… Pinatar Park has charging station there… Well done, great article 👏

    • fred

      09 November 2023 • 17:21

      It seems a bit hypocrite, knowing that all their income and wealth comes from oil!!

    • Pete

      10 November 2023 • 01:56

      The EV car is the bubble about to burst, watch as Insurance companies will not insure and watch as the value second hand is past a joke 50% depreciated in 3 years.. Watch as they catch fire, watch as the fights at charging stations get out of hand.. etc.. Its a disastor ready to expose.. i would never touch one overhyped rubbish..

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