The New York Times has taken a close-up look at the electric future.
It’s called Norway.
Jack Ewing is a veteran Times reporter who has spent years examining the automotive industry from vantage points that’ve included Germany and the United States. In a detailed report published yesterday in The Times, Ewing circled Norway — where 80 percent of new-car sales last year were electric cars — to assess the benefits and drawbacks of leading the EV charge.
In shifting its focus from combustion-powered to battery-powered mobility, Norway, Ewing writes, has become “an observatory for figuring out what the electric vehicle revolution might mean for the environment, workers and life in general.”
In interviews with auto dealers and executives in that Scandinavian country, along with electricity suppliers, lawmakers, residents of the capital city Oslo and workers who’ve learned to deal with frustrated customers at charging stations, Ewing pretty much covers the Norway experience from all angles.
Among the report’s more compelling and tangible findings involves the air. In Oslo, greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 30 percent in the past four years. The city is even quieter. And activist groups have debunked the theory that climate change involves “grim” sacrifices. As one representative said, “With EVs, it’s not like that. It’s actually something that people embrace.”
The story suggests parallels with the States, certainly. Ewing found that city residents who want to go electric are challenged to find sufficient numbers of chargers. He quotes Sirin Hellvin Stav, Oslo’s vice mayor for environment and transport, who says that the city “wants to install more public chargers but also reduce the number of cars by a third to make streets safer and free space for walking and cycling. ‘The goal is to cut emissions, which is why EVs are so important, but also to make the city better to live in,' she says.
The Times piece tackles other related subjects as well: the reordering of auto dealerships to accommodate EV sales, the increasing demands on Norway’s power grid (no, it has not collapsed), battery recycling, and the expectation that the country will end the sales of internal combustion engine cars by 2025. The piece is a useful preview of what may soon encounter, both the good and the bad, here in the United States.
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