Arctic cold or not, electric cars are taking off in Norway

This word has entered the general vocabulary in Norway: “rekkevideangst”. This anxiety of autonomy was well known by Philippe Benassi behind the wheel of his Tesla, especially on cold winter days, but like his compatriots, he learned to tame it.

Frequent frosts, difficult terrain, long distances… Norway is not an ideal playground for an electric car that loses range in frosty weather. However, the Nordic country is the undisputed world champion in the adoption of these vehicles.

Last year, four out of five (79%) new cars in the kingdom, a major oil producer, were electric. .

Philip Benassi, who is involved in the commercial activities of the cosmetics group, took a step in 2018. In his shiny Tesla S, this 38-year-old Norwegian swallow covers between 20 and 25,000 kilometers a year.

Like most new “elbilisters” – electric car owners – he experienced early on the anxiety of seeing the battery gauge drop rapidly. With the dream of getting to zero, it’s the equivalent of running out of fuel on an empty country road.

“I didn’t know the car well enough. But after all these years, I know roughly how many kilowatts it uses, and it varies depending on whether it’s sitting outside or in the garage,” he says.

“Battery capacity decreases in winter. If the car is left outside at -10/-15°C, we use more battery and it takes enough time for the consumption to normalize,” he explains. .

The loss of autonomy in the cold season depends on the model of the car and the severity of the cold.

“However, the general rule is that a frost of about -10 ° C will reduce the range by about a third compared to summer weather, and a severe freeze (-20 ° C or more)” up to half” consultant Vesa Linja-aho.

“This phenomenon can be somewhat reduced by keeping the car in a heated garage,” the expert adds.

– Green tax –

When should it be filled? Where? From how many? These questions concern first-time users. It’s all a matter of habit and planning before long trips.

Various applications from car manufacturers and an extensive network of fast and super-fast charging points – more than 5,600 in Norway – fortunately help to solve the equation.

In a sign that the problem is not insurmountable, electric vehicles accounted for 54% of new registrations in Finland last year. Located in the heart of the Arctic, the country’s northernmost region holds a spine-tingling national record: the mercury has sometimes dropped to -51°C.

Other Nordic countries accustomed to freezing temperatures, such as Iceland and Sweden, are also among the world leaders in electric cars.

“More and more electric cars have battery preheating systems, which is smart because it increases the range and the car charges faster if it’s heated,” said Kristina Bu, secretary general of the Norwegian Association.

“In fact, in very, very cold, freezing temperatures, sometimes diesel cars can’t start, unlike electric cars,” he notes.

The Norwegians have managed to fold in any case: more than 20% of their cars in circulation are now electric – another good thing – they are clean, since they are almost exclusively of hydraulic origin.

And the country is on track to meet its ambitious goal of selling only zero-emission cars by 2025.

It would crown a voluntary policy, with heat engines taxed more heavily than electric engines – even as the government began to reduce those financial advantages last year to cover a deficit of around 40 billion kroner (€3.8 billion). .

“The recipe for success in Norway is a green tax,” concludes Kristina Bu. “We tax the ones we don’t like, gas cars, and we encourage the ones we like, electric cars. It’s as simple as that.”

If Norway can do it, everyone can do it.”


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