Surge of support for electric cars

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The Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) threw its support behind extending tax breaks for electric cars on Thursday, much to the relief of the thousands of Norwegians who have bought them. The tax incentives are supposed to be in force until 2017 or until 50,000 electric cars are sold in Norway, but Labour politicians said the need for them remains.

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

Electric cars like the Tesla Model S are 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 for the incentives to be extended. PHOTO: Tesla Motors

Under the scheme, electric cars like Tesla and Leaf models are exempt from the high one-time fee (engangsavgift) that new car buyers must pay in Norway, as well as sales tax, reported newspaper DagensNæringsliv (DN). Extra incentives include avoiding road tolls and getting to use bus lanes.

“Electric vehicles are trendy and there is also a rapid development of family-friendly electric cars,” said Labour’s environment spokesman Terje Aasland. “It is a positive development that we must preserve, because the transport sector accounts for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Aasland denied that the electric car incentives amount to government support for a trend among wealthy car owners. “If rich people choose to spend money on a climate-friendly Tesla, it’s better than them spending it on a big SUV,” he said.

Speeding towards the goal
The state Environment Directorate (Miljødirektoratet) has set a target of cutting 1.5 million tonnes of emissions in the transport sector by 2020. Aasland wants that target doubled by favouring electric, hydrogen and hybrid cars through tax breaks, and making petrol and diesel more expensive.

“It must become more expensive to emit greenhouse gases, while we encourage people to choose energy-efficient solutions,” he said. “This means a continued lowering of taxes on low-emission vehicles and intensifying collective efforts.”

About 20,000 electric cars have now been sold in Norway. The Conservative (Høyre) party’s environment spokesman, Nikolai Astrup welcomed Aasland’s forward-looking stance.

“Since the number of electric vehicles is already expected to reach 50,000 by 2015, it is natural to discuss the tax regime now,” said Astrup, who owns a Tesla. “We have not decided, but the principle should of course be that it should pay to choose environmentally friendly vehicles.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate