‘Norway is buying our electric cars’, slowing green conversion: Sweden

Interest in used Swedish electric cars is surging in neighbouring Norway.

'Norway is buying our electric cars', slowing green conversion: Sweden
Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT

But that could mean that conversion to cleaner private transport in Sweden could take longer, says industry organisation Bil Sweden.

Almost half of all used electric cars exported from Sweden in 2016 were destined for Norway.

That figure was even higher for hybrid vehicles. Two thirds of used motors of this type found their way to garages in Norway, according to figures from Swedish traffic analysis authority Trafikanalys, which expects the trend to continue.

Compared with total used car exports, which have also risen significantly in recent years, trade in used electric cars remains small.

In 2016, around 660 hybrids and 100 electric vehicles made the crossing for re-registration in Norway.

Industry interest organisation Bil Sweden says the trend is a worrying one, despite the relatively small figures.

“It is a clear problem, as these cars are important for achieving the climate goals Sweden has set itself,” CEO Mattias Bergman said.

Owners’ association Elbil Sverige (Electric Cars Sweden) also said that it had noted the trend.

“We have members who have been refused leases on electric cars because they have bought by Norwegian dealers,” Elbil Sverige spokesperson Magnus Johansson said.

Norwegian interest in electric vehicles also applies to new models, with over half of new cars registered in Norway last year either electric or hybrid models.

High subsidies for buyers of electric cars, tax incentives and rules allowing electric vehicle drivers to avoid tolls are contributory factors to the trend.

Bergman said that measures of that kind would also be beneficial to Sweden’s electric car market.

“To achieve a cleaner car fleet in Sweden, we will need electric and hybrid cars for all customer groups. In order to keep used cars in the country, better rules are needed for their use, not just for new models. Only that way will we reach a critical mass of electric and hybrid cars in Sweden,” Bergman said.

READ ALSO: More than half of Norway's new cars electrified: data


‘Airbnb’ for electric cars launched in Sweden

A car maker hopes to get Swedes using more electric cars by launching an Airbnb-inspired scheme to help drivers connect.

'Airbnb' for electric cars launched in Sweden
An electric car being charged. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Despite Sweden being famous for its focus on environmental issues, the sale of electric car use has been slow to shift into top gear. But a car maker has told The Local that it is hoping its new scheme, using the sharing economy to boost the sale of its own green-friendly vehicles, will take off among tech-savvy Swedes.

“Electric cars is a reality, but even though it's year 2016, a year when environmental issues are a big topic, the infrastructure is lacking,” Renault spokesperson Lars Höglin said in a statement announcing the launch of the company's new scheme Elbnb, a website that allows Swedish drivers help each other charge their cars.

“The primary goal of Elbnb is to raise awareness of the lack of charging infrastructure,” Höglin told The Local on Wednesday, citing a survey by the company where 51 percent of respondents said that they found the lack of charging points one of the biggest obstacles of driving an electric car.

The scheme lets drivers pin electric charging points at their homes on a map, allowing other drivers to contact them to get help filling up. Together they then agree on a time and cost of the electric charging.

If the concept sounds familiar, it is because it is. The name, in which 'el' is short for 'electricity', is inspired by Airbnb, a website that allows individuals to rent their home to other users.

“The name immediately tells people what it's all about. People are aware about bed and breakfasts and about Airbnb. We think that Airbnb has created something amazing, so it's also kind of a little tribute to them,” says Höglin.

A map showing some of Elbnb's charging points in Sweden. Photo: Elbnb/Renault

The map, which also shows official charging points, counts 50 users since it launched three weeks ago.

“We have increased the amount of charging points in Sweden by four percent in only this three-week period,” says Höglin. 

He hopes the project can next branch out to other countries, with Norway potentially being top of the list since it is “one of the biggest countries concerning electrical vehicles”. Nothing is yet set in stone.

“Environmental questions are a big topic in Sweden, so that's also the reason why we did it in Sweden.”

Höglin reveals that the scheme seems to be fuelling Sweden's 'fika' [coffee and cake] trend as well.

“I saw a user the other day saying that if you stop by, you can come for a coffee as well. So it's turning into a social network.”