What the United States can learn from Norway when it comes to electric vehicle adoption

Norway boasts the highest adoption rate of electric vehicles in the world. About 82% of new car sales will be electric vehicles in Norway in 2023, according to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV). By comparison, 7.6% of new car sales in the United States were electric last year, according to Kelley Blue Book estimates. In China, the world's largest auto market, 24% of new car sales were electric vehicles in 2023, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

“Our goal is for all new cars by 2025 to be zero-emission vehicles,” said Ragnhild Seyrstad, State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. “We believe we will reach this goal.”

The Norwegian government began incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles in the 1990s by offering free parking, using bus lanes, not charging fees, and most importantly, not taxing zero-emission vehicles. Sales didn't start to rise until Tesla and other electric car models became available about 10 years ago, Seierstad said.

Norway's capital, Oslo, also powers ferries, buses, semi-trucks and even construction equipment. Gas pumps and parking meters are being replaced with chargers. It's the electric utopia of the future. The Norwegian grid has been able to handle the influx of electric vehicles so far due to the abundance of hydropower.

“Electric cars cost maybe a third of the price of gasoline because we have almost 100% hydropower. It's cheap. It's available and renewable. So that's a big advantage,” said Peter Hoogneland, assistant secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.

CNBC traveled around the world to meet with experts, government officials and locals to find out how the Scandinavian country has achieved such a high rate of electric vehicle adoption.

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