Electric car owners start losing benefits

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Owners of electric cars in Norway, and especially in the capital, have enjoyed lots of benefits meant to encourage their purchase. Many are starting to lose their exemption from road tolls and now the City of Oslo intends to demand payment for using recharging stations that have been free.

Recharging and parking spots for electric cars in Oslo have been free, until now. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The cars called elbiler have been able to both park and recharge for free at city-owned lots. City officials plan to start charging from next year, and any el-biler found parked without charging will be fined.

Lan Ngyyen Berg, the controversial city politican for the Greens Party who’s in charge of transport and the environment in Oslo, noted that fully 38 percent of all new cars sold in Oslo are electric cars. The portion of electric cars going through toll plazas has risen from 10 percent last year to 17 percent this year. It’s thus time, Berg claims, that electric car owners start paying something.

“I can promise that it will always pay off to choose environmentally friendly alternatives,” Berg told newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday, “but it’s correct that also elbiler begin to pay a bit now since there’s more of them in the Oslo region.”

Electric car owners will also need to start paying road tolls, albeit much lower tolls than fossil-fueled vehicles. Several areas have also started charging for parking, which has also been free, while bus drivers have complained there are far too many electric cars in the lanes otherwise reserved for public transport and taxis. Elbiler threaten being kicked out of them, too.

Leaders of both the local electric car owners’ association and the environmental foundation Zero have not objected, however, to the prospect of new fees and tolls. “The most important thing for our members is that there are accessible charging stations when they need them,” Christina Bu secretary general of Norsk elbilforening, told Aftenposten. “A payment system will ensure better circulation. Free charging stations lose their effect when there aren’t any available charging spots to find.”

Marius Holm of Zero agreed: “I’ve seen that many people charge their batteries at city charging stations instead of at home. The supply is simply less than demand.” Fees can encourage elbil owners to charge at home instead.

It remains unclear how much charging fees will cost. Revenues collected will be used to built more charging stations. Berg said the city was budgeting NOK 99 million (more than USD 11 million) for such construction by 2020.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund