Fleet News

Market should prove ripe for zero-emission vehicles

May 2000: WITH a strong environmental reputation, Norway provides a ready market for zero-emission electric vehicles, with fleets the principal buyers.

Peugeot is the largest supplier of electric cars in Norway, and Norway is Peugeot's biggest export market for electric cars.

This does not mean, however, that there are thousands of electric cars on Norwegian roads. So far, the Norwegian importer of Peugeot, Bertel O Steen AS, has delivered 130 electric 106s and Partners, and all have been supplied to fleets.

The Peugeots are leased through Grenland-based Miljobil Grenland AS (Environmental Car Grenland Ltd), in which Norsk Hydro is a shareholder, together with the environmental organisation Bellona and the French electricity company EDF.

Fleet customers are mainly public service organisations, from district nurses to the postal service, and Norsk Hydro also operates electric vehicles. Interestingly, the local Grenland branch of Norway's biggest pizza chain, Peppe's Pizza, is now delivering its products to its customers by electric vehicles.

Although electric vehicles are free of import taxes, which in Norway are very high, they are still expensive compared to conventional cars with internal combustion engines, because of the cost of the batteries. So even with local production of Th!nk, electric vehicles are not expected to take a very high proportion of the car market. By mid-April only 61 Th!nk vehicles had been registered in Norway, a large proportion of the customers being energy companies.

Hybrid cars may have a brighter future among fleet operators, though. The Toyota Prius will be launched into the Norwegian market this September, and many fleet operators have already shown interest in the car, according to Toyota Norway.

There will be tax exemptions for the weight of the electric motor and the battery pack, as well as for the power of the electric motor (import taxes are based on vehicle weight and engine size and power), which altogether will reduce the price difference between a hybrid vehicle and a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. In this way, companies can show an environmentally-friendly image at a reasonable cost.

  • Jorgen Seemann Berg is a leading Norwegian motoring journalist.
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