Electric cars lack recharging stations

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It’s tougher than ever to find available parking and recharging stations for electric cars in Oslo, and city officials warn it will get much worse. Even though they’re rolling out new recharge stations, demand is far outpacing supply.

Electric cars like the Tesla Model S have become popular in Norway, due in no small part to the tax breaks and other incentives offered by the government. The scheme is due to expire in 2017 or when 50,000 cars are sold, but the Labour Party announced on Thursday it'll push to have the incentives extended. PHOTO: Tesla Motors

Only 64 percent of electric car owners in Oslo are able to charge their cars at home, and rely on public recharging stations. PHOTO: Tesla Motors

The challenge, reported newspaper Dagsavisen on Wednesday, is that electric car sales are rising much faster than the recharge stations. City officials have had a goal of building 200 more every year, and they’ve already replaced many conventional street parking places all over the city. The city agency in charge, Bymiljøetaten, plans to open a brand new parking garage for 100 electric cars complete with recharge stations under the Akershus Fortress later this year, with another such garage due to open in the popular redeveloped Vulkan area in downtown Oslo.

It’s far from enough. Sales of electric cars in Oslo have doubled every year since 2011, and they include much more than Teslas. New, relatively low-priced models are rolling into the market with large battery capacity, able to drive much longer distances.

There are no signs the growth in electric car sales will slow, either. City officials themselves expect there will be around 100,000 electric cars in the Oslo area alone by 2020.

That’s in line with the city’s climate policy and thus a good thing, but officials are struggling to accommodate them all. There currently are only around 1,000 publicly funded elbil parking- and recharging stations in the city, plus another thousand in the private sector, mostly at shopping centers or in private parking garages. They don’t satisfy the need, however, for daily recharging.

Sture Portvik, in charge of the city’s elbil service, noted that Oslo also has special demands because far from all car owners have access to their own garage. Only 64 percent of electric car owners in Oslo are able to charge their vehicles at home.

That means as many as 36,000 electric car owners will have to share around 2,000 city-run charging stations. Portvik stressed that city officials are aware of the problem and working to ward off a “catastrophe.” He admitted to Dagsavisen, though, that while the city is pleased about the “great success” of electric cars rolling into the market, the challenge of building so many new recharging stations “sometimes feels like running after a train when you’re standing on the platform.”

An EU directive requires supply of one available recharging station for every 10 electric cars. That would require Oslo, for example, to build 10,000 stations by 2020, which is unlikely. Geir Rognlien Elgvin of the local elbil association (Oslo og Akershus elbilforening) worries that potential car buyers won’t choose electric cars for fear they won’t be able to charge them. The city’s largest electric car parking and charging lot is at Filipstad, and it’s full every day.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund