Earlier this year, Norway made headlines by announcing that it had become the first country in the world to sell more electric cars than petrol, diesel and hybrid equivalents. According to the Norwegian Road Federation, battery electric vehicles, BEVs, made up 54.3 per cent of all new cars sold in 2020.
Here in the UK, we are making some progress towards electrification, particularly since November when the Government brought forward the deadline for the end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030.
However, more needs to be done, and although we need to be careful to avoid comparing the two countries in too much detail – the energy infrastructure is vastly different for a start – there are still some observations and learnings we can take from Norway’s successful adoption of BEVs.
Norway has committed to ending the sale of new, non-electric vehicles by 2025 – five years before that of the UK. While this might not seem like much on paper, it is a date that’s fast approaching. Crucially, Norway has been implementing policies gearing the country towards electric vehicles for nearly thirty years.
In the early 2000’s the government took these incentives to the next level by removing the sales tax from electric vehicle sales, free parking for EVs was introduced in some car parks and toll charges removed. It suddenly became a very attractive alternative for car buyers.
The UK has already followed this example by offering good incentives for electric vehicles, including road tax exemptions and cheaper fuel. Importantly, the UK needs to ensure that the incentives make these cars available for everyone. One criticism in Norway has been the fact that electric vehicles are still considered to be for the wealthy, as many can’t afford the initial expense which is frequently a lot more than diesel or petrol vehicles.
In some cases, what has held Norway back from further progress towards the 2025 deadline is the fact that many car manufacturers and importers simply can’t keep up with demand for electric vehicles. In 2019, many individuals were on waiting lists for their vehicles, and there is speculation that as the market continues to grow across Europe, there could be further pressures in the supply chain as importers struggle to keep up.
An important consideration for the UK will be to ensure that supply is fully geared up to meet the increased demand over the next ten years as the move towards electric cars accelerates further.
One final but extremely important point is that of infrastructure. Again, Norway has been some way ahead with this thanks to its early adoption of electric vehicles. The Government invested heavily in charging infrastructure to enable more electric vehicles on the road, and many private companies have now taken this on themselves.
Last year’s budget in March saw Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce a significant investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and charging points – but this all takes time to take effect. Many individuals will not consider investing in greener vehicles if the charging points are not easily available, which could hamper progress to some degree.
Sunak made no specific reference to electric cars and charging infrastructure in his budget 2021 speech, however £4.8m was announced to support the development of a hydrogen hub in Holyhead, Anglesey.
Importantly, the electric vehicle market is growing in the UK and we are all moving in the right direction. With a focus on infrastructure and incentives, and a move to make electric vehicles more accessible to all, there is a huge opportunity for the UK to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
It’s a hugely exciting time for the industry, and we believe it will be an important area of growth in the next decade and will likely lead to the creation of more jobs and opportunity, particularly for those in engineering, as well as public policy.
To find out more about policy and engineering roles relating to electric vehicles and their infrastructure, please speak to one of our team on 0118 907 7580.
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