Read an interesting article in the NYT recently about the transformation of Norway’s transportation sector to electric. Last year 80% of new car sales in Norway were electric, as the country moves to end sales of ICE cars in 2025 (this in a country which still has a substantial domestic oil-and-gas industry). And the basic effect of all of this change is… the Norwegians are adapting and the benefits are substantial.
Oslo has cleaner air, less noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 30%. Levels of nitrogen oxides – which cause smog and ailments such as asthma – have fallen precipitously. On the downside, Oslo’s air still has unhealthy levels of small particles generated in part by tires meeting asphalt. Electric cars are heavier than ICE vehicles, so that may be aggravating the problem.
Norway’s power grid has easily held up, even as electrical demand grows. New substations and transformers have had to be installed, but most people charge their cars overnight when demand is low and power is less expensive. Charging is a challenge for apartment dwellers and sometimes demand for chargers overwhelms supply (e.g., on highways during busy holiday travel seasons), but the government subsidized constructions of fast charging stations across the nation.
The effect on dealerships and gas stations has been evolutionary. Electric cars need less maintenance than ICE ones, but they still break down and need brakes and tires. Technicians learn how to replace defective battery cells or perform software upgrades, as engine maintenance and oil changes recede. Companies such as Circle K have installed charging stations and figured out how to make them work across multiple electric car types. And since electric cars take a little longer to fill, customers spend a little more time there and often purchase extras such as more snacks.
Norway is a perfect test case for how electrification impacts a country. And what is happening is decidedly not doom-and-gloom. Things are evolving and changing for the better. Sure there are issues, but the benefits far outweigh the costs of the changes.