Dear USA: Be More Like Norway

Consider Norway as a case example of what is possible in the sphere of promoting electric vehicle development and adoption, assuming policymakers have the will:

“Norway has some of the world’s most generous incentives for electric vehicle buyers. Electric cars are exempt from value added tax (VAT) and purchase tax, which on average in Norway add 50% to the cost of a vehicle. They are also exempt from road tolls, tunnel-use charges, and ferry charges. And they get free parking, free charging, and the freedom to use bus lanes” (Mirani, May 2015).

However it seems that an abundance of incentives has resulted in some unintended issues — for instance overcrowding of bus lanes and mitigated revenue streams for ferry companies — causing Norway to rein in some of these incentives. Too much of a good thing can have unintended consequences.

My heart does go out to the bus drivers who must navigate streams of EVs as well as ferry owners and operators whose trades have been negatively impacted. Ferry companies, at least, ought to be compensated (perhaps by the government) for bearing some of the minor repercussions that result from an expedited transition toward an EV-friendly environment. Some restrictions ought to be placed on the times that EVs can be in bus lanes; but they should still have some preferred access, even if it slightly inconveniences bus-transportation. These are really only small prices in exchange for a much greater benefit: invigorated trajectory toward an environmental sustainability and intelligence that allows current and future generations to live healthier, happier lives.

As part of a shift toward greater overall environmental sustainability, strong EV incentives also entail an increase in the likelihood that human society continues to have the luxury to partake in the hallmarks of a beautiful civilization — for instance art, music, innovative technologies, exploration of the universe of which we are but young citizens — rather than be burdened and preoccupied with the ramifications of excessively exhausted resource pools, including the carbon capacity of Earth’s atmosphere. An analogy: better to brush one’s teeth too much than not enough, otherwise one’s teeth fall out and one can no longer fully enjoy the bounty of culinary/gustatory experience.

EV Bus Access in Norway.

In short, an excess of intended effects is better than a paucity — that is, it is better to have overachieved than to have hesitated too much in the design/planning phase and/or to have set one’s end-goals too low. For all those current and/or future policymakers and policy-influencers out there who may come across this drop in the ocean of the blogosphere: do not be shy when it comes to the magnitude of EV incentives, at least initially. Be more like Norway.