Increasing electric vehicle sales not complicated, says Norway's deputy environment minister

More than 40 per cent of new vehicles sold in Norway are powered by electricity, not gas, and the country’s deputy environment minister believes P.E.I. could hit that same target.

‘You can also obviously do it in P.E.I.’

Increasing electric vehicle sales is not complicated, says Sveinung Rotevatn. (General Motors)

More than 40 per cent of new vehicles sold in Norway are powered by electricity, not gas, and the country's deputy environment minister believes P.E.I. could hit that same target.

Sveinung Rotevatn said the country has done it simply by making electric vehicles a good deal.

"The most important incentive would be that the vehicle would be exempt from all taxes," said Rotevatn.

"In Norway we tax regular cars quite heavily and have been for many years. So if you want to buy a great vehicle at a cheap price, the electric vehicle would be your option."

The incentives don't stop when you've purchased your car. Norway provides special commuter lanes and free parking, and exemptions from road and ferry tolls.

Rotevatn said it was important for Norway to look at vehicles if it was going to reduce its carbon footprint. While other countries have been able to cut back on a carbon-fueled power grid, Norway was already running on abundant hydroelectricity.

It is a situation similar to P.E.I.'s, where transportation is the source of 48 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Norway also faced similar climate and geographic challenges.

"Norway with its cold winter climate, vast distances, sparse populations, is probably, in theory, the worst country in the world to try to launch an electric mobility revolution," said Rotevatn.

"If you can do it here you can do it anywhere. And that means you can also obviously do it in P.E.I. and then in Canada."

There are two basic options for encouraging electric vehicle purchase, he said. Make the vehicles cheaper, or make gas more expensive. Norway opted for cheaper vehicles, he said, because more expensive gas can have a disproportionate effect on lower-income people, who may not be able to afford to buy a new vehicle.

Idealism not enough

Rotevatn believes one way or another, running an electric vehicle needs to be the cheaper option for people.

"The environmentally-best option also needs to be the cheapest option for people," he said.

The P.E.I. government has purchased some electric vehicles to promote their use by Islanders. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"I don't think there is enough idealism in the world that people are going to be willingly spending more on a car than they have to to save the environment."

Rotevatn said the only thing keeping electric vehicle sales from being even higher in Norway is a lack of models that are appropriate for large families or work purposes. With new models coming from manufacturers, he expects electric vehicles sales will continue to increase.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?