Norway and the A-ha moment that made electric cars the answer

The Guardian discusses Norway and the A-ha moment that made electric cars the answer. A country fuelled by hydropower has become the world’s electric vehicle leader.

In 1995, the lead singer of the 1980s band A-ha and the head of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona climbed improbably into a converted electric Fiat Panda they had imported from Switzerland and set off on a road trip.

They drove around Oslo refusing to pay the city’s sky-high road tolls, parking illegally wherever they could, and ignoring every penalty notice they were given. Eventually, the authorities impounded their car and auctioned it off to cover the fines.

But the stunt attracted massive media attention, and the point was made. Soon after, electric vehicles were exempted from road tolls, one of a large raft of incentives that have, over the years, helped make Norway the country with the world’s highest per capita electric vehicle ownership.

Last month, in an economy hit by the coronavirus crisis, fully electric cars accounted for just under 60% of Norway’s new car market, and plug-in hybrids just over 15% – meaning three in four of all new cars sold were either wholly or partly electric.

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