Norway's Abundance of EVs Puts Strain on Public Charging and Congestion Perks

By · December 27, 2013

Model S in Norway

Ordinary wall socket plugs in Norway are 240 volt 16 amp, so many EV owners choose to plug directly into the wall.

Ola Jahr lives in Norway and owns two plug-in electric vehicles, a 2011 Think City and a 2013 Tesla Model S. Norway offers among the most generous packages of rewards for EV ownership in the world, and Jahr confirms that owning a plug-in electric vehicle in Norway is both economical and convenient. But the upfront cost of EVs is still a barrier to ownership, he told

“I bought a Tesla because it is the only present alternative if you want to go fossil-fuel free on your number one car,” said Jahr. "But without the huge tax relief it would not have been an option.” Taxes on new non-electric cars in Norway can more than double their price. There is no purchase or value-added tax on a plug-in electric vehicle.

Jahr bought the inexpensive Think City second hand as his first plug-in electric vehicle. But it turned out to not be so cheap—he had to replace the battery pack, “which was expensive,” he said.

Jahr, 65, works in Oslo and commutes 17 km (10.2 miles) each day. He drives one of his electric vehicles in sometimes, “but mostly I cycle,” he said. He bought the Model S so he and his wife can take longer trips. That's made possible with the Model S because of its long range and Tesla's Supercharger network in Norway, he said.

Think City in Norway

Ola Jahr works in Oslo and commutes about 10.2 miles each day to work, sometimes driving either his Think City or Tesla Model S electric vehicles. Usually though, he says he prefers to bike.

Norway has only about 5,000 public charging stations, about 500 of which are in Oslo. Jahr is not aware of any DC fast-charging stations though there was a plan to add around 100 in 2013. Ordinary wall socket plugs in Norway are 240 volt 16 amp, and most people use a wall socket to recharge, said Jahr. Though there is a socket in his work place garage, Jahr said he usually recharges at home. The cost to fuel a battery-electric vehicle in Norway is one-tenth as expensive as fueling a diesel or gasoline-powered vehicle, he said.

Add to that free city parking, no toll road charges, and access to bus lanes, and owning an electric vehicle in Norway is a mighty attractive option. As in California, where some people buy plug-in electric cars just to gain an HOV lane sticker, access to the bus lane in Oslo is a big draw. “Honestly, I think the single most important key (to the EV market in Norway) is the ability to drive in the bus and taxi lanes,” said Jahr. But, he added, there is also “genuine support for a green industry.”

Charging Station Lines and Crowded Bus Lanes

Three of the top ten best-selling vehicles in Norway are electric. The Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S trade off as the top-selling car in the country. There are some 15,000 electric cars on the road in Norway now, up from 6,000 in 2011. EVs represent five to six percent of all new vehicle sales in Norway.

That has created somewhat of a backup at charging stations in the city of Oslo, where the majority of the EVs are sold. And, according to a Bloomberg story in late December, some 75 percent of the cars in the bus lane during rush hour on one day were EVs.

Despite complaints from some blogging EV owners, Jahr considers the charging station backup problem to be a minor one. “Most people can get to and from the city without an extra charge,” he says. The crowded bus lanes are a bigger problem. “This will soon be an escalating issue,” said Jahr, “particularly from Oslo west/south where they have sold most of the EVs with the sole purpose of going in the bus lanes.”

New to EVs? Start here

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