Empreses 12/11/2013

Norway 18, Spain 1.

3 min


No, this time it isn't about a soccer game. Next couple of weeks will be important for Electric Mobility in Catalonia, a topic where we all talk too much and do too little. Sometimes it's just too easy to create a big name or headline!

On one side, there is Expoelectric at Parc de la Ciutadella the weekend of November 16 and 17. On the other, the 27th International Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition, at Fira Barcelona running from November 18 thorugh 20.

Two years are gone since my Nissan LEAF purchase and ca. 50,000 km (31,000 mi) are behind me, driving through Catalan roads and highways. I decided to take this mass market pioneer electric car to show how far we still are from where we could be.

Take Norway, for instance, where the LEAF went on sale the same month it went in Spain, September 2011. There was such a 'waiting line' that 600 LEAF were sold the first three days, in Spain 376 have been sold through September 2013. In Norway 6.929 within the same two year period, having a population of just over 5 million, compared to the 47 million in Spain. The demand for the Nissan LEAF was so high, that forced customers to import about 1,500 units from neighbouring countries .

Norway scores big in electric vehicles, with 18 times more LEAF sold than Spain. In Norway, Nissan has 8,3% of its global 83,000 LEAF EV sales.

What are the reasons behind these numbers? In my opinion, of two kind: 1) Social awareness and 2) Government involvement.

All of us can make our contribution regarding awareness, even though Administration, mass media, and businesses do play an important role too. At the end of the day, these three agents, among others, put up a lot to society's information and education. And yet a relevant insight: Norway is an oil exporting country, Spain, a net importer.

Has Spanish public Administration been involved in pushing for the electric mobility? Yes it has, for instance with a €6,000 subsidy (that lasted only the first 12 months) and in Catalonia there are a few additional advantages, as a discount in a few tolls or free circulation through high occupancy lanes. In Norway, though, they do more and they do it better: the LEAF (and all electric vehicles) is exempt from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including sales tax (VAT), the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments, as well as being able to use bus lanes. All this makes it much smoother for the driver of an electric vehicle in Norway. Last, but not least, Norway does already have a dense network of quick charging points scattered through the main highways. In Catalonia, there were three of such points in September 2011, and currently there are 4, all of them located within Barcelona metropolitan area. In April 2013, the LEAF climbed in Norway to be the second top selling new car in the country and currently Norway has 1 LEAF per 731 inhabitants, Spain has got 1 one LEAF per 124,000 inhabitants. We now know we can make it better as well as which country to be like.

Next couple of weeks are also key for the United Nations climate change negotiations, with the COP19 in Warwaw. With both, the climate protection negotioations for all of us reducing CO2 emissions from fossile fuel combustion, and the historic Super typhoon Haiyan that has left behind a path of destroyed lives and properties in the Philippines, we all have two good reminders that we must move quicker towards a low-carbon economy. Electric mobility is a main pillar of it.