Norway leads the way in EV uptake for Europe

The transition away from combustion vehicles is a gradual process for many countries, but Norway has cracked the code the quickest.

Here in the UK, the sale of petrol and diesel-powered cars is expected to be phased out by 2035. The transition towards cleaner ways of getting around is taking time to come to fruition, but not all countries are stuck in the slow lane.

Norway is tearing ahead of the nearest competition, having achieved the milestone of EVs surpassing internal combustion engine cars in sales terms. Just how did this country manage to leave its neighbours behind?

Increasingly attractive EVs

According to the Norwegian EV Association, Norway has experienced tremendous growth in the EV sector. In 2019, it is estimated EVs represented 42 per cent of car sales. By 2020, this had jumped to 54 per cent, giving EVs the privilege of taking the lion’s share of the Norwegian car market.

The yearly average masks an exceptional improvement in the last month of 2020 – by December 2020, EVs had leapt to 66 per cent of market share. If sustained into 2021, this could mean continual improvements in the sales performance of EV-based models.

The UK has much to learn from Norway, where EVs are expected to represent the complete car market in terms of sales as soon as 2025. By contrast, the UK is expected to have only just hit that 50 per cent of sales threshold by 2025, with EV market dominance in the car market not expected until 2035, according to the ICCT.

Audi’s e-tron nabbed the top spot as Norway’s most popular new passenger car for 2020. This marks the third consecutive year in which an EV model proved to be a clear favourite for auto-enthusiasts – Nissan LEAF started the trend, winning gold in 2018, followed by Tesla’s Model 3 in 2019. But what could possibly be the brand to watch in 2021? One thing’s for sure – it will most-likely be electric!

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London clamps down on emissions

The switch from petrol and diesel towards EVs can’t happen in a vacuum. Some interventions are required to quicken the pace of this change, not just to root out old models in favour of cleaner ones. For years, cars which resorted to petrol and diesel for fuel have been emitting tonnes of toxic waste products into the air, harming the environment.

In London, policy-makers are actively working towards improving the air quality of the capital, by widening the scope of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in 2021. Under the ULEZ, driving motorbikes, cars, vans, buses, coaches and lorries which fail to meet European emission standards incurs a charge of £12.50 per day.

The ULEZ is credited with having a dramatic impact, significantly improving London’s air quality, having managed to cut emissions by 20 per cent in its first three months of enforcement. At the same time, it cut the number of vehicles entering the zone to the tune of 94,000 vehicles per day.

Plans are afoot to expand the zone to include the North and South Circular from October 2021, encompassing a part of the city which is home to 3.8 million people. With petrol and diesel vehicles actively being squeezed out of the capital, it’s only a matter of time before electric counterparts start to outnumber them.

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