Electric vehicle champion Oslo has zoomed quietly past a new milestone: it now has the highest number of electric vehicles per capita of any city in the world, the Oslo government announced earlier this week.
Oslo, which ties with fellow Norwegian city Bergen for the title, now boasts over 50,000 electric cars on its roads, which make up just under 17 per cent of the city’s entire fleet of passenger cars.
Adding the 50,000 battery electric cars in county surrounding Oslo, Akershus, brings the greater Oslo area total to 100,000 electric cars.
A whopping 57 per cent of new car sales in Oslo in the first half of 2020 were electric — and, if growth in sales remains steady, then by 2025, 50 to 60 per cent of all cars in Oslo are expected to be battery electric, reaching 70 to 93 per cent by 2030, according to an Urbanet Analysis projection cited in the press release.
“Today, we are celebrating that a new milestone has been reached, but we must continue on, quickly. There remains about 250,000 passenger cars that we need to electrify by 2030,” said Project Leader Electric Mobility, Urban Environment Agency at the City of Oslo, Sture Portvik, in a press release.
That is the year Oslo intends to see only zero emission electric vehicles on its roads, contributing to its goal of becoming a near-zero emissions city that same year.
“Now, the electric car share is starting to reach a level that really shows up in the emissions accounts. We estimate that the 50,000 electric cars in Oslo produce around 100,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction annually, in addition to less air pollution and noise. It is fantastic, but still just a start towards the goal that all the cars that still drive in Oslo are fully electric by 2030,” said Deputy Chairman of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, Petter Haugneland.
“However, it will require that the state electric car benefits be maintained and that the development of charging stations continue,” Haugneland emphasizes.
These benefits — from tax breaks and duty and toll exemptions to special access to bus lanes and parking spaces — have made Norway the global electric car leader in the world in terms of new car registrations per capita.
Reflecting Oslo and Bergen, pure electric cars made up almost half of car sales in Norway in the first half of 2020 — a world record, outstripping the next few countries in the ranking by miles — as the global economic hit from COVID-19 proved to be kinder on battery-powered vehicles than fossil-fuel driven rivals.
Oslo’s concerted pioneering efforts include exploring ways to make charging convenient, flexible and viable, particularly in a variety of residential settings.
In 2019-2020, the City of Oslo installed 40,000 new charging points through a grants scheme for private citizens and businesses, according to Portvik, what was considered to be by far the most cost efficient solution for the City.
Oslo’s focus is now on electrifying commercial vehicles.
“(Transport) represents 55 per cent of all emissions in the city. So if we are going to do something and meet our obligations from the Paris Agreement, we have to start with transportation. So what we are doing at the moment is actually electrifying everything when it comes to transport. Everything includes the private cars, but also freight vehicles, the big trucks and all the buses,” Portvik said earlier this year.
By 2020, Oslo expects all public transport in the city to be fossil-free, and to be emissions-free by 2028. By 2024, all taxis in Oslo will be emissions-free. The city will also focus on the electrification of goods and services transport, which represents a large and growing share of emissions from transport in large cities such as Oslo.
Climate change mitigation is the main driver of the city’s push for electrification of all forms of transport, but, as Haugneland mentioned, better air quality (as well as noise levels) is likely to be a co-benefit — especially as the largest sources of air pollution in Oslo today, particularly nitrogen dioxide and soot particles, are road traffic and heating.
The city has registered a decline in nitrogen dioxide levels since 2013, both in areas close to heavily trafficked roads and those away from busy roads, though it acknowledged that concentrations of air pollutants did go over the annual average limits in the former from time to time, and threatened to exceed them elsewhere.