Norway’s EV Boom Could Entrench Car Dependency

The Scandinavian country is a pioneer when it comes to EV adoption, but there are downsides.

2 minute read

November 2, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Small grey sedan charging at outdoor electric car charging station with green kiosk and green forest in background in Norway.

Electric car at a charging station in Norway. | Sid10 / Adobe Stock

In a piece for Vox, David Zipper describes how the push to promote electric vehicles in Norway is contributing to the famously egalitarian country’s inequality and stymying efforts to reduce car dependency. “Despite the hosannas from abroad, Norway’s government has begun to unwind some of its electrification subsidies in order to mitigate the downsides of no-holds-barred EV promotion.”

Environmental and transportation advocates have noted that switching fossil-fuel powered cars for electric ones is not enough. To limit the impacts of climate change, we must reduce vehicle miles driven overall. But in Norway, where the government has heavily invested in EV subsidies and roads, cars have become indispensable for many residents—but not all. “In Bergen, for instance, 67 percent of households in the lowest income quartile go without [a car].”

Meanwhile, “The effect of EV adoption on public transportation has been a particular concern for Norway’s cities because boosting transit ridership has been a linchpin of local mobility strategies.” According to Zipper, “EV promotions have shrunk the funding available to invest in transit improvements because Norwegian public transportation budgets are partly funded through the road tolls that the national government exempted EV owners from paying.”

Norway offers a valuable lesson for other countries and cities: while EVs can help decarbonize the transportation industry, “an influx of electric vehicles can hinder efforts to escape the automobile’s urban stranglehold.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2023 in Vox

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