Just about 24 hours ahead of World Environment Day, electric vehicle evangelist and founder of Tesla, Elon Musk tweeted: “Just heard that Norway will ban new sales of fuel cars in 2025. What an amazingly awesome country. You guys rock!!”
His excitement stems from a report from front-page news in the Norwegian daily ‘Dagens Naeringsliv’. Translated, the headline reads that four leading political parties are likely to agree to ban sales of diesel and petrol-engined vehicles by the year 2025.
The new law has not officially been passed, but it has been put forward in a white paper, which calls for new private cars, buses and light commercial vehicles to be zero-emission after 2025.
Electric car sales account for around 24% of Norway's new car market, making it one of the leading countries for electric car sales, but it's also one of the world's largest oil exporters.
The Dutch Labour party PvdA is also pressing for a ban on petrol and diesel cars in the Netherlands from 2025.
Norway, which offers handsome incentives to electric vehicle buyers, is already a major market for Tesla. The country, which sees annual sales of around 175,000 cars and has a population of five million, is eyeing a zero emission target from all cars by 2025.
Norway is known to be among the greenest countries on the planet and sources most of its electricity from hydropower. It has more electric vehicles per capita than any country in the world – one out of four cars is an EV. Now with political parties in Norway seeming to arrive at a consensus on a higher level of green motoring, little wonder Elon Musk is so bullish on this European country.
European leaders have been talking about such a ban for many years – insiders have suggested Paris will be the first city to implement a zero-emissions-vehicle-only zone within its boundaries – but if they were to be introduced, the Norwegian and Dutch policies would be the first complete ban on combustion-engined vehicles.
The Dutch proposal arrived a year after it joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance, which aims to make all new vehicles use electric power by the year 2050. The country is already one of the fastest growing markets for alternatively fuelled cars, with nearly one in 10 cars bought last year using electric power.
The UK has seen similarly rapid levels of growth, although the overall number of sales for alternatively fuelled vehicles is comparably small.
There is an increasing contribution from hybrids and EVs to overall figures, though, which has taken place despite recent changes to UK government grant subsidies that mean cars that were previously eligible for grants of £5,000 (Rs 4.92 lakh) are now receiving as little as £2,500 (Rs 2.46 lakh) off their new list price.
London is also only four years away from enforcing a permanent Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), meaning all vehicles in the zone must meet strict emissions requirements. Nitrogen oxide and particulate matter from vehicles are expected to be halved as a result of the ULEZ.
With sales of alternatively fuelled cars on the up (Tesla’s new all-electric Model 3 received more than a quarter of a million orders in its first 72 hours on sale) and stricter enforcement of emissions limits, how long will it be until the combustion engine is either completely banned or priced out of the market?