Norway’s EV Growing Pains and What They Mean for the Industry

Norway has been a global leader in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, with EVs making up the majority of new car sales throughout the country in recent years. But its rapid transition as an early adopter has also surfaced some foundational challenges that can provide useful lessons for the rest of the world.

One big issue cropping up in Norway is the capacity constraints on the electrical power grid. With thousands of new EVs hitting the roads, the grid is getting overloaded in some areas of the country. It turns out that Norway’s electrical grid was never built to handle large clusters of EVs charging at peak times. And upgrading the infrastructure turns out to be extremely expensive and time-consuming.

In other words, it sounds like the same issues facing every other country. This challenge shows the importance of coordinating EV charging habits and infrastructure growth as adoption scales up. Smart charging technology can help by shifting charging to off-peak hours. But strategic planning and investment are also needed to avoid bottlenecks like Norway is encountering.

Range anxiety and how to manage it

Norwegian drivers face the same psychological challenge as most new EV drivers: “range anxiety.” Despite most drivers not needing to travel more than 200 miles (322 km) per day, the fear of running out of battery charge while driving persists. Even though range keeps improving, consumer education is still essential to overcoming deeply ingrained fears. And even with education, each driver must better understand how their own unique driving style impacts charge consumption.

For instance, I’ve been driving my EV for a little over six months now. I still face range anxiety, but it’s greatly diminished mostly due to familiarity:

  • I have a better understanding of charging options in the greater metropolitan area where I live (thanks to many good EV charger location apps). Stay tuned—we’ll explore this topic more in my next blog post.
  • My driving style of “pedal to the metal” has shifted to “glide for a smooth ride.” Sorry, that’s the best rhyme I could come up with. My point is, I now have a better feel for how to maximize the driving range of my vehicle.

I will say, however, the panic from trying to make it to a charging location when you see the mileage ticking down feels a lot like the old-school panic of exiting the freeway and hoping you can coast into the c-store gas station as your needle hits the big “E.” So…maybe it’s also a slightly nostalgic feeling?

Unintended consequences

On top of the power grid challenges, Norway’s public transportation system is also being impacted. As more commuters switch to EVs, public transit ridership has declined. This puts a financial strain on transit agencies that rely on fare revenue. Reduced ridership also makes routes less productive, creating a downward spiral. That unintended result can reduce the overall benefit of having people switch to EVs.

These growing pains in Norway illustrate two essential points about the global energy transition. First, we’ll need to make major investments and upgrades to our power grids, charging networks, and related infrastructure. And second, it will involve fundamentally changing consumer perceptions and habits around transportation.

Here in the United States, we’re still in the early stages of EV adoption. But automakers, government agencies, and the convenience industry are already working to get ahead of the curve, rather than playing catch-up. There are several initiatives underway to modernize power grids, install more public chargers, and launch consumer education campaigns.

Suffice to say that the shift to EVs is an enormous undertaking, but Norway continues to show it can be done with the right coordination and strategic planning. As more drivers discover the convenience and benefits of EVs, momentum will continue building. And hopefully we can learn from pioneering countries like Norway as we drive toward a cleaner transportation future.

If you want to learn more, please check out the other posts from my EV blog series.

E-mobily yours,

EV and Convenience

Learn more about EV and convenience with new resources in the EV Hub.