Norway has cemented its position as a global leader in the fight against vehicle emissions as, for the first time ever, the country has reached a point at which 52% of new cars run on alternative fuels. Diesel vehicles, once believed to be an environmentally-friendly choice, fell rapidly in sales.
In Oslo, as well as other large and affluent cities and towns within the nation, electric and hybrid cars can be commonly seen on the streets, including Teslas, identifiable due to their license plates beginning with EK or EL. Charging stations can also be found in most urban areas.
The reason that electric cars are so popular in Norway is due to government subsidies, tax breaks and incentives that make the technology more affordable and useful to the average Norwegian. These include not having to pay for the use of most toll roads, cheaper parking and the use of bus lanes to bypass traffic at certain times.
Norway has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world, primarily due to its low population. As of late 2016, Norway had over 100,000 electric cars, whereas, in the same time period, the United States hosted 540,000 on its roads. However, the comparative populations of the two countries must be accounted for: approximately 5 million against 320 million respectively. Therefore, only 0.77% of U.S. vehicles are electric, despite the recent groundbreaking successes of Tesla and other brands and manufacturers.
According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory report on consumer views on electric vehicles, only 48% of the polled respondents were able to name a make and model of electric car, such as the Tesla Model S or the Nissan Leaf. However, a slight majority (52%) of individuals held the belief that hybrid vehicles were just as good or better than conventional gasoline and diesel-fueled cars. On the other hand, this approval dropped to 45% when questioned about the purely electric plug-in alternatives.
Ultimately, only one fifth of polled Americans would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car, a statistic that is perhaps due to only 18% of the questionnaire participants being aware of an electric charging station on their commonly traveled routes.
Electric vehicles, which are especially beneficial for the environment, face some barriers to their acceptance, such as having to replenish their charge too often and the length of time a charge requires. For a majority of consumers to consider purchasing an EV, they would be required to drive 300 miles on a single charge. For context, the Tesla Model S has been reported to have traveled a distance of 670 miles in the hands of an Italian owners’ club, yet the factors that dictate its endurance are more numerous than solely the electric engine itself—including the tires, climate and style of driving. As such, the model is unlikely to be able to reach such a distance for the average driver and Tesla do not list an official distance that can be covered in a single charge.