Norway is more than a decade ahead of the U.S. in its adoption of electric vehicles. If the Biden administration's goal of having 50 percent of new vehicles be electric by 2030 sounds ambitious, Norway passed that mark in 2019, The New York Times reports. In 2022, 80 percent of Norway's new car sales were electric, and it plans to phase out gas-powered cars entirely in 2025. So far, "Norway's experience suggests that electric vehicles bring benefits without the dire consequences predicted by some critics," the Times reports.
Oslo's air is noticeably cleaner — and much quieter — and its greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 30 percent since 2009 with no big uptick in unemployment at gas stations or auto mechanics, or significant strain on the electrical grid. Norway has put a lot of work into making the transition, starting with enacting policies to promote electric vehicles in the 1990s and, more recently, subsidizing the rollout of fast-charge stations throughout the country.
The combination of tax breaks for EV owners and readily available charging stations "took away all the friction factors," Volvo Cars CEO Jim Rowan told the Times. But the U.S. and other countries can learn from Norway's challenges with electric cars, not just its successes. That includes figuring out the optimal number and locations for charging stations, and dealing with the frustrations of new EV drivers learning to plug in their cars. "Sometimes we have to give them a coffee to calm down," Marit Bergsland, who works at a Circle K north of Oslo with more charging stations than gas pumps, tells the Times.
Read more about Norway's instructive laboratory of electric vehicle adoption at The New York Times.