One way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels is to switch from your petrol- or diesel-fuelled vehicle to an electric one. And while there are plenty of electric vehicles (EV) to choose from, there are several factors to consider.
Here in Norway, the choice is almost endless as all the established car brands – from Nissan to BMW – have at least one electric model, often up to four or five different ones. And then of course you have the electric-only brand Tesla which has created an electric revolution. The models range in price from 149 900 NoK (Peugeot Ion and Citröen C Zero) to 2 000 000 NoK (Tesla Roadster).
As Norway is the country with most electric cars in the world, currently approaching 400 000, you should also be able to find your dream car on the secondhand market. And even if you buy a brand new electric car, the subsidized costs will quickly make it worth the spend. The adoption and deployment of zero emission vehicles in Norway has been driven by policy, and actively supported by the government since the 1990s. Among the existing public incentives, all-electric cars and vans are exempt from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including purchase taxes and and 25% VAT on purchase. Until recently, Oslo offered free parking for electric cars. Even though this changed in March this year, the fee is only 20 percent of the price for fossil-fuelled cars in Oslo, and in several cities around half price.
Charging and the battery debate
Some years ago, tracking down charging stations could be tricky, but as the number of electric cars on Norwegian roads are increasing, so is the number of chargers. And although an EV demands a bit more planning when driving longer distances, apps like Fortum Charge&Drive and GrønnKontakt makes it fairly easy to plan your fast charging pit stop.
While many houses and residential areas have their own power outlets, the safest option is to install a small charging station at your home. Shared housing areas normally have access to charging stations with modest hourly fees.
The biggest argument against electric cars is the manufacturing process of their batteries, in terms of both pollution and ethics. As with smartphones, there is a range of rare earth metals like cobalt involved in the composition, and their extraction and manipulation contribute to carbon emissions. Still, when you take the EV’s lifespan into account, the emissons will be considerably lower than a fossil-fuelled car. In addition, news that the energy company Fortum has successfully started recycling used car batteries is definitely a gamechanger.
What to do if it’s not for you
If the entry fee or maintenance of an EV is too much to take on, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint during your daily commute. Can you bike or walk to work? Being outdoors as much as possible is a great way to keep fit and also of avoiding the coronavirus. Regarding public transport, many of us have several options and the buses, trains, trams and ferries are all taking precautions these days.
If you for practical reasons still need to use a car, try to keep driving to a minimum and try carpooling via apps like Nabobil or Bilkollektivet to reduce the number of cars on the roads. If your car need is occasional, you can rent private cars in your area through Nabobil. The app also lets you rent out your own car. Sharing is caring, and the sharing economy is definitely a great tool in managing your carbon footprint.