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Is Happiness an Electric Car? What Scandinavia can teach us about EVs

Will Mackay permanent-hires, Electro Mobility, Digital & Technology...

Is Happiness an Electric Car? What Scandinavia can teach us about EVs

By Will Mackay Head of E-Mobility & Energy Storage, Will.mackay@greenrecruitmentcompany.com 

The past two years can be termed as a turning point for the adoption of new-age mobility. Yes, we are talking about the increasing demand of electric vehicles (EVs) the world over. The automotive industry is at crossroads as various brands are placing electric vehicles and technology at the heart of their future. With global warming being considered an important issue (regardless of a few exceptions), policymakers are betting big on EVs to clean the air of pollutants emitting from diesel and gasoline vehicles.

When it comes to electric vehicles, it must be said that the Scandinavian countries are leaders in making the necessary changes to promote these new age green vehicles. If EVs are to be the future of human mobility, which we think they are, Europe and most of other countries across the world can take a leaf out of Scandinavia’s adoption of electric cars. Here’s why: 

Government support in Norway

Guess the highest selling car in Norway in 2018? Yes, it is the popular Nissan Leaf, which sold over 12,000 units in the last year. The Nissan Leaf is not only the bestselling vehicle in Norway but is also the bestselling electric vehicle across Europe and the world! The country, which has pledged the total adoption of electric cars by 2025 is leaning towards electrification with a vengeance. Of the top 5 selling models in Norway, four of them were electric cars in the form of Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Tesla Model X and Volkswagen’s Golf. 

The recent success of electric mobility in Norway is no overnight success though. The roots of this lie way back in the late 1990s and early noughties, when the country introduced zero purchase tax and absorbed the 25% VAT on EVs and electric car batteries. Add to that, if you own an EV in Norway, you get benefits such as 50% rebate on company car tax and lower road taxes, tolls, parking fees and ferry charges. 

Another source of motivation to shift to electric vehicles is the installation of ultra-fast charging stations across Norway by EON-SE, CLEVER and YX. These new chargers will have the ability to recharge 400 km range batteries within 30 minutes and will be located along Norway's main highway corridors connecting Oslo with Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim as well as neighboring Sweden. 

Here’s what Christina Bu, CEO of Norwegian EV association, has to say about the country’s government policy towards EVs: “While initial support from the government is very crucial in setting up charging infrastructure, a good network and possibility of large volumes will eventually make private players jump in, to tap into the opportunity of a profitable business.” 

Denmark’s ambitious plan to phase out conventional fueled vehicles by 2030

Last year Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen made an announcement to phase out diesel and petrol cars by 2030 and hybrids by 2035. “It is a big ambition that will be hard to achieve. But that’s exactly why we need to try,” he said. 

This announcement was a U-turn from the previous year’s decision to cut the EV incentive, which saw sales of pure electric car fall by 73% in the following year. While the EV market has still not recovered completely, the government does realize its folly and is taking the right steps to amend the same. What’s more, the country is aiming to become totally fossil fuel free by 2050 as it cuts down coal-based generation of electricity. 

For those still not convinced with the use of electric vehicles in everyday life, electricity is way cheaper than gasoline or diesel. If your car costs $12 per kilometer, an electric vehicle will cost you just $2-$4 to cover the same. Then there are carmakers like Renault and Nissan encouraging buyers to shift to EV by offering the car’s battery on lease rather than buying them outright. This further brings down the overall cost of running an EV.

The importance of charging infrastructure in Sweden

The first question that every buyer considers when opting for an EV is its range. Can I take my car for long drives? Is it good for vacations? What if I run out of charge midway? Are some of the common doubts that every skeptical EV buyer faces. Let’s calm your horses.

Consider the new Renault Zoe. One look and it’s like a normal compact hatchback – cool and swift. Well, indeed it is. The all electric car boasts a jaw-dropping 400-km range. That is at par with the fuel tank capacity of a conventional petrol guzzling sedan!  Most of the electric cars offer a decent 150-300 km range which can take care of daily commute to work or even long drives and vacations.

One of the flag bearers of developing a sustainable charging network is Sweden. Since 2014, the country installs 10 new fast and 100 normal charging points. Also, the government has now decided to involve private players in this task. A strategy which sees private players install charging points and then cover the service and maintenance charge is a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

As for the duration to charge an EV, most of the automakers claim that a car can be charged up to 80% in an hour or so, which is not bad at all. Mind you, as newer technologies come up, the charging time will start to decrease gradually.

The importance of a pro electric vehicle culture in Finland

Finland has a relatively low population compared to its Nordic neighbours, largely due to its frosty winters which aren’t exactly suited to electric vehicles. However, this does not deter the people to opt for EVs over diesels and petrol. This is largely due to their dealers which encourage buyers to choose an electric car rather than the conventional vehicle. The Finnish government has set a target of 250,000 EVs by 2030, which has resonated with the people, making the country move in the right direction.

Taking into account the government policies, the role of private companies as well as down to the salesmen in an automotive dealership, all of them have played their part in electrifying mobility in these Scandinavian countries. While a lot of other European countries have also made big statements about the adoption of electric vehicles, there is little work to show the same.

For all their pros and cons, electric vehicles are the future. There is no other way. Further, automakers like Volkswagen, Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have pledged millions of dollars to develop new electric models. Electricity suppliers are working hard on the development of charging stations and according to UBS, EV sales are tipped to surge by 54% in the next quarter of a decade according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance study.

Also, before signing off, Finland was the world’s happiest country in 2018, while Norway topped the list the year before. What’s more, all the Scandinavian countries are among the world’s happiest. Is there a direct correlation between electric vehicles and peace of mind? While there’s no direct evidence, why not give it a shot if it will make you happy!