Another year, another step closer to climate doom unless we cut carbon pollution. What’s happening with electric cars at the start of 2018 is a sign that maybe, just maybe, we might be beginning to steer the ship toward less catastrophic waters.
Established automakers and startups alike are introducing a bevy of new models. Meanwhile policymakers from Scandinavia to California are looking at how phase out gas-powered cars. And on the charging side, companies are already thinking about how to build a bare bones network and scale it up from there. Taken altogether, there’s a lot of encouragement that the electric car market is poised to move from its infancy to the toddler stage over the course of the next year. And with 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation, that’s a decidedly important step.
“We don’t have final numbers, but we expect about a million plug-in vehicles sold globally [in 2017],” Salim Morsy, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told Earther. “We will have reached the 1 percent mark of new vehicles sold.”
So far, sales have been driven largely driven by subsidies that make electric and hybrid cars attractive. Per capita, Norway has seen the fastest shift in the auto market of any country in the world. The country recently announced that more than half of all new car sales in 2017 were either electric or hybrids.
Norwegian electric car buyers get tax breaks, don’t have to pay tolls, get access to bus lanes as well as free parking and charging. Finnoey—an island connected to the Norwegian mainland by a tunnel—has the highest adoption rate of electric cars in the world because residents can save up to $6,000 annually by not paying the tunnel toll.
“Norway tells us a lot,” Morsy said. “It tells us that if you can do a supply side shock where there are subsidies to price Tesla at discounts that people will buy them. Of course, it’s a rich country. You can’t go to Botswana and have the same results.”