We are at a relatively early stage of the electric car revolution. EV sales are increasing rapidly, but they still comprise only a small fraction of the cars on American roads. So, there is still lots of speculation and argument about how things will actually work when a large fraction of cars are electric. But there is at least one place where one doesn’t have to speculate: Norway.
Last year, 80% of new-car sales in Norway were EVs. That country is essentially an observatory for figuring out what the electrification of vehicles will mean for the environment, workers, and life in general. In fact, sales of internal combustion cars in Norway will end in 2025.
Based on Norway’s experience, electric vehicles bring benefits and none of the dire consequences that some critics predict. The transition isn’t problem-free. There have been unreliable chargers and long waits during periods of high demand. Auto dealers and retailers have had to adapt to the changes in their businesses. The pecking order of car brands has changed dramatically making Tesla the best-selling brand and marginalizing long-established carmakers like Renault and Fiat.
But in the bigger picture, the air in Oslo, the capital of Norway, is measurably cleaner. The city is quieter as noisy gasoline and diesel vehicles gradually disappear. Oslo’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 30% since 2009. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been mass unemployment among gas station workers, and the electrical grid has not collapsed.
Norway is perhaps 10 years ahead of us with respect to electric cars. There are still problems to solve, and difficulties to overcome, but so far, it looks like it will all turn out well.
Photo, posted October 15, 2018, courtesy of Mario Duran-Ortiz via Flickr.