In 2017, the BMW i3 was the best-selling BMW in Norway. Almost 70 percent of BMWs on the country’s roads are electric. Norway is the world’s undisputed leader for electric cars – but it’s not done yet.
Nature-loving Norwegians share a vision. In Oslo they want to turn their noses towards the fjords and breathe in salty air rather than exhaust fumes. Over the last few years they’ve been working to make this happen. Few countries in the world have provided such generous national and local incentives to buy electric cars as Norway. As a result, electric and hybrid cars now make up almost 40 percent of new registrations.
The Munich manufacturers of the compact, electric city car have also benefited from this. In 2017 alone, BMW dealers in Norway sold 5,035 BMW i3s, mostly in Oslo and in Norway’s second city, Bergen. This is mainly due to the financial incentives that the city gives to drivers – VAT, import duties and road tax are all waived for electric vehicles. This means that a BMW i3 costs around 285,300 Norwegian kroner (approximately 29,600 euros) and is therefore cheaper than a BMW 116i at 307,900 Norwegian kroner (approximately 32,000 euros).
Norway does not a car manufacturer of its own, but Norwegians are big fans of German cars – including electric vehicles. The BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf are the most popular electric cars in Norway. One of the main reasons for this is the short waiting times for the BMW i3. “Customers who order one or our electric vehicles only have to wait two to three months. None of our competitors come close to this”, says Emmanual Bret, Managing Director, BMW Group Norway, with a touch of pride. This year, he is aiming to top last year's sales figures with attractive leasing contracts and service packages – and bring up to 6,000 electric vehicles onto the road. Bret thinks this is a very realistic target because – with a range of up to 200 kilometres – the BMW i3 2018 will also appeal to people in small towns and suburbs.
But Norway is not done yet. By 2025 it wants all new cars sold to be zero-emission vehicles. But there are a few hurdles to overcome before then, starting with charging points. In Oslo they seem to be everywhere, just like parking meters, but in fact there are still not enough. The number of electric cars has risen by more than 100 percent in recent years, but with only a 26 percent increase in charging columns, Oslo City Council is not exactly keeping up with demand. But infrastructure is only one side of the coin. The municipal authorities also need to offer incentives such as free parking or the right to use bus lanes. “We can’t simply close off the market and only sell electric vehicles”, says Bret.
But there is no doubt that the carbon footprint of electric vehicles in Norway is exemplary. Today 98 percent of the country’s energy comes from hydropower. This puts the Norwegians streets ahead of other European countries, which still generate much of their electricity from lignite.