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Could Brexit help the UK follow Norway’s green example?

Richard Lowden, founder and CEO of Green Motion

Everyone knows the future of driving lies in electric vehicles (EVs), but in the UK we’re still struggling to make the change. 

In 2017, plug-in vehicles accounted for just 2% of new car sales, while in Norway pure-electric as well as a few hydrogen-powered cars accounted for 20.9% of total sales over the same period.

And hybrid vehicles accounted for 31.3% of the market, including 18.4% for plug-in hybrids.

So what’s behind this massive shift in the Norwegian mindset? It’s possible the eco-friendly message is gaining more traction in Norway, but the real reason is likely to be more prosaic; a green taxation policy that makes plug-in car ownership attractive to Norwegian pockets as well as hearts. 

The Norwegian government has scrapped VAT and import taxes on new plug-in cars, vastly reducing the upfront cost. 

Not only that, Norwegian electric car owners are exempt from the ferry fees, road tolls and emissions charges that drivers of petrol and diesel cars pay. 

Owners of plug-ins are also entitled to free parking in some areas and the right to bypass traffic jams in favour of gliding quietly along bus lanes.  

Here in the UK the situation is rather different. Like Norway, we have targets for lowering emissions.

As part of this plan, there are Government grants available to buyers of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVS), as well as some tax benefits, including exemption from the London Congestion Charge.  

And, while the good news is that sales of electric and hybrid vehicles are on the rise in the UK, the fact that the figures are still so low is a clear indication that far more needs to be done to persuade consumers to make the change. 

With this in mind, I believe Brexit represents a great opportunity for the UK Government to emulate the success of our fellow non-EU country Norway, taking decisive action to help reduce emissions by putting policies in place that will make plug-in vehicles the norm rather than the exception. 

But for this to happen, we need to make it financially viable as the cheaper running costs of plug-in cars alone are not enough to make most people swallow the initial higher cost of buying one. 

By Richard Lowden, founder and CEO of Green Motion

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