Europe

Would you take an electric car on a 260-mile road trip across Norway? We did

Have you gone electric yet?

While sales of electric cars (EVs) continue to grow in the UK, there are still millions of petrol and diesel cars on the road – with more joining the ranks every year.

However, new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030 under government legislation, with hybrid vehicles following suit in 2035.

All of this means eventually anyone buying a new car will have to go electric – but many drivers still have concerns over range and charging point availability.

To investigate, Adam Hay-Nicholls jumped in a Peugeot e-2008 for a 260-mile drive across the wilds of Norway – and explains how the UK’s charging infrastructure stacks up surprisingly well against the famously forward-thinking country.

Soaring sales and renewable sources

While the UK has declared new car sales will be restricted to EVs and hybrids from 2030, Norway’s aim is to make all new cars zero-emission by 2025 – and it’s well on its way. Norway has had policies in place to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles since the 1990s.

Today, nearly 80 per cent of new cars sold there are EVs, compared with just 14 per cent over here. Twenty-five per cent of all cars on its roads are electric, compared with about 2.5 per cent in the UK. And, unlike the UK, almost all electricity production comes from renewable energy sources – mostly hydroelectric. We’re at 38.6 per cent.

The reason so many Norwegian drivers have switched from internal combustion (ICE) to clean energy has little to do with their environmental sensitivities and everything to do with cost benefits. There are tax breaks for EV owners, no road tax is payable and a lot of toll roads and inner-city parking are free. Some towns even let EV drivers take the bus lanes.

Meanwhile, new ICE cars are hit with heavy taxes, and while the cost of electricity is going up everywhere, for now it’s still cheaper per mile to drive electric. Of course, as adoption of EVs becomes the norm, these tax benefits will be phased out just as it is here, with UK EV owners having to pay road tax from 2025.


Peugeot’s battery-powered crossover

Bergen is Norway’s second city and it’s here I’m tossed the keys to Peugeot’s £33,700 e-2008. There’s exciting-looking design inside and out, and the ‘e’ in its name hints at the revolutionary tech under the surface.

It’s powered by a 50kWh battery and uses a single 100kW electric motor that delivers 134bhp to the front wheels. Zero to 60mph takes 8.7 seconds and range is 214 miles, improved with the addition of special EV tyres that cut rolling resistance. A 100kW rapid charger should charge from empty to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.

Road trip: Bergen to Alesund

My route takes me 260 miles north of Bergen to the port of Alesund, skirting fjords, threading mountain passes and experiencing the Trollstigen – one of the world’s most serpentine roads. I take a ferry crossing at Sognefjord, the longest and deepest inlet in Norway, and I don’t have to pay the toll because I’m in an EV.

I keep an eye on the battery level and stop every couple of hours for a 20-minute charge – 50kW chargers are commonplace and I don’t need to wait. My experience in the UK is that away from cities and motorways, there’s often a queue.

Switchbacks such as the Trollstigen are ideal for enthusiastic motorists, and EVs such as the e-2008 can self-charge by regenerating energy while braking on 
the steep downhill sections. I was able to top up my Peugeot’s battery by seven per cent just doing this.

So, how does the UK’s charging infrastructure compare?

The UK and Norway have roughly the same number of EVs on the road – about 500,000. And the UK actually has more chargers: 35,778 to Norway’s 21,000. The EU’s stated goal is to have ten EVs for every charging point, so both the UK and Norway are lagging.

And while we may have the edge on infrastructure for now, one needs to bear in mind that the UK’s population is 12 times the size of Norway, and as 2030 approaches the demands on the infrastructure will be difficult to keep up with. Norway is adding 800 to 1,000 chargers every year; the UK is currently installing more than 1,200 a month, which is in excess of 14,400 a year.


What’s more, despite Norway’s enviable EV reputation, charging speeds and reliability aren’t any better than ours, while subsidies are tightening up – just as they are in Blighty.

Where the Norwegians are at an advantage is with their small population and renewable energy sources. Energy is the area the UK government needs to focus on and Norway’s spectacular waterfalls have plenty going spare.

Automotive editor Leo Wilkinson says: On the whole, yes. While you’re likely to pay less in charging costs for an electric car than you would to fuel a petrol or diesel car for the same mileage, the chances are that you’ll pay more to insure it. Insurance premiums for electric cars are often – though not always – higher partly because the hi-tech components they use – in particular their batteries – can be costly to repair or replace.

Electric cars are still quite new and insurance firms aren’t sure what the long-term risks and costs associated with them will be. The price gap between insurance premiums for electric cars and petrol and diesel cars is already narrow and it’s expected to get narrower still as electric power becomes the norm.

Ask the Car Doctor (in association with Cazoo)

Do electric cars cost more to insure?

Automotive editor Leo Wilkinson says: On the whole, yes. While you’re likely to pay less in charging costs for an electric car than you would to fuel a petrol or diesel car for the same mileage, the chances are that you’ll pay more to insure it.

Insurance premiums for electric cars are often – though not always – higher partly because the hi-tech components they use – in particular their batteries – can be costly to repair or replace. Electric cars are still quite new and insurance firms aren’t sure what the long-term risks and costs associated with them will be.

The price gap between insurance premiums for electric cars and petrol and diesel cars is already narrow and it’s expected to get narrower still as electric power becomes the norm

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