In a major first, Norway’s general secretary of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association (NEV), Christina Bu, announced on Monday that the sales of electric cars in the country had outpaced the sales of traditional cars — 58.4 percent of new cars sold in March were battery-powered, according to a Reuters report out yesterday.
Norway itself helped bring this about by laying out a host of incentives to encourage citizens to choose electric over traditional fuel vehicles. Owners of electric cars enjoy perks like toll-free roads, access to bus lanes in cities to avoid congestion and free charging. The country also incentivized manufacturers by exempting battery engines from the same taxes levied over fossil-fueled vehicles. In their report, Reuters credits the massive popularity of the Tesla Model 3 (its production in the country was ramped up last month) as partly behind why Norway experienced such an uptick in overall electric car sales.
Norway aims to completely shut down the sale of fossil-fueled vehicles by 2025 and is often singled out for its comprehensive plans to address issues of carbon emissions and climate change overall. Meanwhile, in the U.S., our politicians are mocking the idea of a Green New Deal while various parts of the country, including the Midwest, are submerged by the rising tides.
Given the wealth and relative size of the nation, some economists are quick to point out that the Nordic model of handling these and other issues isn’t all that applicable to other countries, like the U.S. But on the other side of that coin, Norway proves that muddling together a fairly wealthy society and existential crises like climate change doesn’t automatically yield market forces that correct for wrongs; sometimes everyone needs a good incentivizing shove, like the policies above. Nonetheless, the strong presence of socialist values coupled with the country's capitalist economy does present a compelling argument for what can be accomplished when a government prioritizes the welfare of the people.