If there is one constant refrain from the electric vehicle lobby, it is the deification of Norway and China as leaders in the automobile’s green revolution. Indeed, “Why can’t we be more like Beijing or Oslo?” is probably the most popular comment on any Internet forum relating to the lack of progress in electrifying our North American fleet.
And it’s an image both countries take pains to promote: One of the key speakers at this year’s Canadian International Auto Show was Morten Edvardsen, senior political adviser for the Norwegian EV Association, whose whole message seemed to be, ah, “Why can’t Canada be more like Norway?”
At first glance there is much to covet. Norway, as Edvardsen took great pains to point out, has the highest penetration of electric vehicles per population — 216 per 10,000 inhabitants, roughly 20 times than that in Canada — and market share — about 35 per cent of all cars sold in Norway in 2017 were plug-ins.
More importantly, as Edvardsen reminded the audience, Norway’s climate is similar to Canada’s yet it has built an infrastructure that allows long-distance EVers to recharge at their convenience. “Why aren’t you more like us?” was understood by one and all in the audience.
The issue not discussed is that Norway is paying a huge toll for its greenness. The incentives Norway offers — Mr. Edvarsden dismisses them as mere “tax breaks” — are generous enough to make Kathleen Wynne seem parsimonious.
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