Can electric cars provide a more sustainable future?
Whatever the environmental concerns, it seems certain that the car is part of our future here on earth. So here on the Technoport Playground, I’ll be taking a look at innovation in the car industry, and what steps are being taken to help us achieve a safer and more sustainable future. First up, the electric car.
Right now, the best selling car is Norway is not made by Ford, Toyota, or Volvo. It’s the Tesla Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan.
It’s so popular in Norway primarily because of a Government economic incentive package, designed to encourage 50,000 zero emission vehicles on to Norway’s roads by 2018.
The incentives include:
- No sales tax or duty on purchase
- Free parking in municipal car parks
- Free use of the bus lane in cities
- No tolls or congestion charges
Tax on buying new cars in Norway is colossal, so the first point alone is sending hoards of Norwegian drivers into Tesla showrooms.
It’s not a model that can be copied by other countries without some serious investment in infrastructure. Electric cars require electric charging stations, and Norway has one of the best developed networks outside the USA. One driver (the northernmost Tesla owner in the world!) proved it’s possible to drive all the way from Oslo to Kirkenes at an electricity cost of just NOK 400. Free charging stations are strategically placed around the country (there’s one here in Trondheim), while other for-cost stations are placed cleverly at shopping centres and even on ferries, to minimise the disruption when you need to recharge.
However, it’s not all rosy.
Despite the company’s PR stating the car performs well in winter driving conditions, some Norwegian drivers have reported problems with the charging process as the sub-zero winter temperatures have set in.
There’s also the question of how environmentally-friendly electric cars really are.
In Norway, the vast majority of the country’s electricity is generated through hydropower, but with 25,000km of coastline let alone the countless fjords, that’s easy. But for other countries that generate electricity through coal-fired power stations, electric cars will just put more pressure on an already overloaded energy grid.
One Forbes columnist went as far to claim that electric cars are an extraordinarily bad idea, arguing that they are not economically viable without substantial Government support.
So over to you.
Electric cars – part of the solution, or not?