The Norwegian band A-ha is not only responsible for the 80s hit “Take on me”, but also for the e-mobility breakthrough in Norway. The full story and everything you need to know about Norway's inspiring role in electric driving can be found in our insightful e-book. We also tell you all about the current situation in Belgium, what the Norwegians can teach us and what the future challenges will be when it comes to recycling.
The integration of electric and hybrid cars into Belgian society is taking a rather long time. You might see one of those vehicles driving down the road from time to time, but consumers have not yet embraced the arrival of the e-car en masse. The main obstacles for the general acceptance of electric vehicles are the high purchase price, the limited operating range, and the low number of charging points. Norway, on the other hand, is definitely at the top of the class.
This country has the highest percentage of zero-emission vehicles on the road. There is a good reason why Oslo is known as the electric vehicle capital of the world1. In 2017, electric and hybrid vehicles made up no less than 52% of all newly registered vehicles2.
Why is that country so far ahead? What are the differences between the incentives for e-car ownership in Norway and the incentives in Belgium? What can we learn from the Norwegians? And what challenges can we expect in the future? This e-book offers you a clear insight into all of those issues.
EV market share in Norway: the numbers
The above diagram shows the market share for full electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The pattern is very clear: three leaders way out ahead and then a lot of stragglers following behind. Obviously Norway has managed to achieve the e-mobility breakthrough.
By the end of 2016, in a country that has a population of only six million, there were over 100,000 registered electric vehicles (plus another 34,000 plug-in hybrids)4. A year later, by the end of 2017, those sales figures had doubled and electric and hybrid vehicles made up no less than 52% of all new registered vehicles. According to Norwegian Traffic Information (OFV) via NTB, of the 147,929 new passenger cars registered in 2018, 31.2% were fully electric vehicles5.
That is a fantastic figure, but Norway is aiming even higher. The Norwegian parliament recently decided that by 2025 all new cars and light commercial vehicles will have to be 100% emission-free. Obviously a very ambitious target, but the government are dedicated to make it happen.
Did you know...
Norway is the only country where the average cost of ownership for an electric car (€670 per month) is lower than the same cost of a petrol car (€731) and a diesel car (€722)<sup class="a-sup">6</sup>?
Norwegian government incentives
The Norwegian “boom” didn't happen all by itself - nor from one day to the next.
The most important driver for the Norwegian e-mobility surge has been the package of incentives that the Norwegian government introduced way back in the early 1990s. They took action at a very early stage and used the incentives policy to achieve progress step-by-step, one government coalition after the other. It has been in place for almost 30 years now.
Stability in policy was the biggest push for the Norwegian mass migration to electric vehicles. It is a great example of what a consistent and targeted long-term policy can achieve.
Within this evolution, there were several key moments that helped to put the e-mobility transition in Norway into overdrive:
2003: when minibuses were in danger of losing access to bus lanes, the e-mobility lobby launched a campaign. This achieved a major breakthrough for all electric vehicles in 2005.
2008-2009: financial crisis. Despite the economic recession, Norway still invested €6 million in the development of a charging station system. That provided a boost for the local economy and electrical installation companies, and of course for e-mobility.
2010: Mitsubishi launched the I-MiEV, which was quickly followed by Nissan, Renault, and Peugeot with their established distribution networks. This meant electric cars suddenly became affordable for a lot more Norwegians. In addition, the new e-models came with a 5 year guarantee, which reinforced consumer confidence.
Here is an overview of the incentives7 that have been introduced by the Norwegian government since the 1990s:
No purchase or import tax (1990)
Low annual road tax (1996)
No charges on toll roads and ferries (1997 and 2009)
Free parking in municipal car parks (1999)
50% reduction of company car tax (2000)
Exemption from 25% VAT on purchases (2001)
Access to bus lanes (2005)
Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing (2015)
Access to bus lanes in Oslo for carpooling with at least one passenger during rush hours (2015)
Free municipal parking in designated areas decided by the cities (2017)
Zero annual car tax (2018)
40% reduction of company car tax (2018)
50% reduction of toll charges for ferries (2018)
No registration tax for used zero-emission vehicles (2018)
* Recently added
Charging infrastructure data
As part of the Norwegian EV policy, since 2010 Norway has also had a national, central, open and public database for all types of charging infrastructure (NOBIL). This has helped electric vehicle owners tremendously because they now have access to fast and up-to-date information about all the locations and types of charging infrastructure throughout the country. The NOBIL database is a product of a collaborative partnership between the Agency for Urban Environment and the strong association of EV users (‘Elbilforening’ - The Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association), and it provides standardised data free of charge.
NOBIL is not a charging payment system or a reservation system. It only collects and distributes data about charging points. It has information about more than 1400 charging stations and 5000 charging points, of which 60 are fast chargers This means all the EV service providers - mobility providers, charging infrastructure operators, energy suppliers, city councils and local councils - can design and integrate their services based on this up-to-date data. The NOBIL platform is also open to other Scandinavian countries, and soon to all EU countries, who want to share their data about charging infrastructure in a standardised way.
Because of its advanced state of e-mobility, Norway also has a lot of experience with the processing of disused EV batteries. Not just in the field of recycling, but also the reprocessing of used batteries so they can be used for other applications. After all, an EV battery is a perfect device for the storing of energy. Like solar energy, for example.
Fredrik Andresen, CEO of Batteriretur, says about this:
“In Norway, we have already conducted a great deal of research into second-life applications. The fact that the producer remains liable for the battery, also in other applications, is still an obstacle. That liability must in my view be transferred to the “second-life” company. Many car manufacturers are also joining us in the search for second-life solutions. Summarised: we support second life 100%, on condition that the responsibility is transferred and that the legal aspect is fully in order. We will continue to do research, including in collaboration with other companies and bodies.”
Did you know...the Norwegian success story started with the pop group A-Ha?
In 1989, the environmental organisation Bellona imported the first electric car into Norway. It had been campaigning for government incentives to be introduced by getting the backing of well-known celebrities, including the pop group A-Ha. They generated publicity by driving this tiny electric car (that three people could just about squeeze into and could only run for about 45 km per charge) on toll roads without paying the toll. They also refused to pay the fines. After 17 unpaid fines, the government gave in and introduced an exemption on the payment of toll charges for electric vehicles. And that exemption still applies even today.
“The consistent government policy is the basis for the success. At the same time, Norwegians are great nature lovers. Electric vehicles are “clean”, and a good way to take care of nature. I think therefore that some Norwegians “go electric” not merely for the subsidies or tax deduction. Although saving money often plays a role in the decision to buy electric cars.”
Fredrik Andresen, CEO Batteriretur (Norway)
How far have we got in Belgium?
Belgium is not exactly one of the early adopters or front runners when it comes to e-car ownership. Belgium is ranked in 8th place in the European top 10. The switch to e-mobility has been announced for a long time now, but the big breakthrough still hasn't happened yet. Ten years ago, trend watchers predicted a market share of 10% for electric cars by 2020. A bit of an overestimate, as it turns out. Let's start by taking a look at the figures for 2018.
Recent reports from Traxio show that compared to 2017:
Non-hybrid plug-ins increased by +21%
Hybrid plug-ins decreased by -18.1%
Electric vehicles grew by +38.4% and posted the strongest growth
26,613 EFV(*) in 2017 - 28,505 in 2018 = an increase of 7%.
(*rechargeable hybrids, non-rechargeable hybrids and 100% electric)
Hybrid plug-ins are experiencing a sharp decline. This is because in 2017, many "fake" hybrids were sold as a result of federal corporate tax measures. The deductibility percentage for car expenses will be increased for "false hybrids" from 2020 onwards, unless they have been registered before the end of 2017.
These fake hybrids (plug-in hybrids) are cars that run partly on fuel and partly on rechargeable batteries, but whose electric battery capacity allows only limited use. Special and stricter regulations will therefore be introduced for these cars from 2020 onwards.
Figures for 2018 - 2030
The recent evolution:
New vehicle registrations and market share by engine type - consumers only
Registrations and market shares by engine type of new vehicles - private consumers and leasing
Coming on the market in 2018:
Based on 552,000 registrations per year (total fleet of about 6,000,000 cars) 28,505 EFV* = 5.2% of all new cars
92,000 EFV* in 2025 (18.4% of new cars)
154,000 EFV* in 2030 (30% of new cars)
* full electric, hybrids and plug-in hybrids
Goals & incentives
The European Commission puts it this way:
“A deeper market penetration of electric vehicles will depend on the integrated roll out of infrastructure, vehicles and fuels. Electrification of transportation is essential in order to break out of our dependency on oil and to reduce the carbon footprint of traffic and transportation, especially when it comes to road transport (over short and medium distances) and rail transport. Europe has to accelerate the electrification of road vehicles and other transport modalities, and become a driver for e-mobility and technologies for energy storage. This will require a complete integration of electric vehicles within the policy for mobility in urban areas and in the electricity supply network, both for the consumers of energy and potential storage facilities.”
Belgium is a federal state that consists of three Communities (Flemish, French, and German speaking) and three Regions (Flemish Region, Walloon Region and the Brussels Metropolitan Region). The regional governments have been assigned responsibility for the achievement of the sustainable mobility and environment targets of the European Union.
Climate change (and thus also the measures to prevent it) is an issue that crosses a range of policy areas and has to be dealt with at different policy levels. The government policy varies depending on the region.
In 2013, the federal government adopted a Strategic Long-Term Vision on sustainable development. In 2017, the Flemish Region adopted its Energy Vision 2030-2050, the Walloon Region adopted its Climate Policy 2050, and the Brussels Metropolitan Region started the implementation of the Regional Plan for Air-Climate-Energy that was adopted in 2015.
From the Vision Proposal for the Inter-federal Energy Pact:
“By the year 2025, 20% of all new cars sold must be zero-emission cars, and in 2030 this must be 50%; each entity can accelerate the phasing-out of combustion fuel engines. All new cars and buses purchased by government organisations and public transport companies have to be zero-emission vehicles by the year 2025. The phasing out of vehicles using fossil fuels will be implemented by the various entities involved. The existing regulations on company cars will be revised on the basis of the energy and climate objectives.”
Climate objectives for the Flemish Region
In May 2017, the Flemish government approved the Energy Vision 2030-2050. In this, it was decided (amongst other things) that:
by the year 2030, the sale of cars using fossil fuels has to be reduced by half
by the year 2035, the Flemish Region wants to achieve the European targets, which essentially means that all new vehicles sold must be zero-emission vehicles.
This vision has been translated into a ten-year plan. Click to read the complete Energy Plan 2021-2030 of the Flemish Regional Government.
Based on its rather ambitious plan Clean Power for Transport (CPT), the Flemish Region has been working on the achievement of a breakthrough in the field of (amongst other things) electric vehicles. Based on the CPT plan, the Flemish Region aims to install no less than 2500 public charging points by the year 2020, which will be carried out via tendering by EANDIS.
You can follow the latest developments in the growing popularity of e-cars in the Flemish Region at milieuvriendelijkevoertuigen.be. It should be pointed out that environmentally-friendly vehicles also include vehicles that run on hydrogen and natural gas There is a special site for businesses that want to find out how to make the switch to electric vehicles for their fleet. After they have registered, they will have access to a detailed action plan for the introduction of electric vehicles and an effective e-car policy.
Climate objectives for the Walloon Region
In the climate decree of 201411, objectives were laid down for the reduction of emissions by 2030 and 2050. This supports the Walloon Region’s long-term policy in the field of climate, energy and air quality. In order to achieve those objectives, a Plan for Air Climate Energy (PACE)12 is drawn up every five years. The plan consists of 142 measures in relation to the industrial sector, the production and distribution of energy, residential housing, the services sector, transport, fluorides, and agriculture and forestry. It also covers climate change and international funding for climate projects.
The Walloon Region wants to have around 10,000 electric vehicles and 688 charging points by 202013. The government is also going to spend €400,000 on the network of charging points. By 2030, there will need to be 7,500 charging points if the Walloon Region wants to be able to serve the target number of 500,000 electric vehicles set for that year.
Climate objectives for the Brussels Metropolitan Region
The Regional Plan for Air-Climate-Energy - the Code Bruxellois de l’Air, du Climat et de la maîtrise de l’Energie (COBRACE)14 of 2013 - contains measures in the field of efficient energy and the development of sustainable energy sources, transport, air quality, and climate. It also covers (amongst other things) the environmental impact of mobility.
After a public consultation procedure, this vision was translated into a Plan for Air-Climate-Energy in Brussels (2016)15 with 64 measures and 144 action points aimed at reducing the emissions in the region by 30% in 2025.
You can find more information about the share of e-vehicles in the new registrations in Brussels here:
In Belgium, the switch to e-cars - electric and hybrid cars - is mainly stimulated financially, by way of subsidies, tax relief, and premiums. The measures which the Regions are responsible for vary depending on the region.
Zero Emissions Premium
Since January 2016, the Flemish Regional Government has been paying consumers a direct premium when they buy a new 100% electric car or a hydrogen car. This also applies for non-profit organisations.
The Federal Government gives consumers tax relief of 15% on the purchase price of an electric scooter which can be deducted from their income tax.
Since 15 April 2018, new electric scooters in category B have been eligible for a premium from the Flemish Regional Government. The premium is 25% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of €750.
Since 15 April 2018, new electric motorbikes registered in the Flemish Region are eligible for a premium from the Flemish Regional Government. This premium is 25% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of €1,500. The premium is payable to private individuals, self-employed persons, charitable organisations, and car-share companies. Companies (without car-share activities) are not eligible for the premium.
Federal Tax Relief on income tax
The Federal Government gives consumers tax relief of 15% on the purchase price of an electric motorbike (including 3-wheel and 4-wheel bikes) which can be deducted from their income tax. Please note! The tax relief does not apply for e-bikes. This means you cannot include the cost of buying an e-bike as a tax-deductible expense in your income tax return. Source and info.
120% tax deduction
For businesses and self-employed persons, fully electric vehicles are 120% tax deductible. In 2020, this will go down to 100%. The situation is more complex for (plug-in) hybrids. Until the end of 2017, many plug-in hybrids were 100% deductible for corporation tax purposes. As of 2020, however, a lot will change for cars purchased after 31/12/2017. The tax relief on “false” (plug-in) hybrids will be significantly lower.
New e-bikes, pedelecs, and speed pedelecs are 120% tax-deductible for businesses. Companies can claim this tax relief for their employees and managers. Small businesses owners (including professional partnerships) can claim this tax relief for their employees, but not for themselves.
Taxable benefit in kind (VAA) - EV and PHEV
In terms of the taxable benefit in kind, fully electric cars offer significant advantages. Although the minimum percentage is the same, the taxable benefit is calculated based only on the catalogue value and the age of the car. You can get more information about this from your financial adviser or accountant, and at this website16this site.
Vehicle registration tax (BIV)
A 100% electric car is exempt from vehicle registration tax. Hybrids with CO2-emissions lower than 50 g/km are also exempt. You can calculate the rate for other hybrid vehicles using this tool17 of the Flemish Regional Government.
In the Walloon Region, you only have to pay the minimum vehicle registration tax for a 100% electric car: €61.50.
Brussels Metropolitan Region
In Brussels, you only have to pay the minimum vehicle registration tax for a 100% electric car: €61.50.
Since January 201618, 100% electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids (with max. CO2-emissions of 50 g/km), and hydrogen cars are exempt from road tax. Since 1 July 2017, 100% electric light trucks (or vans) in the Flemish Region have been exempt from road tax. This exemption also applies for electric vans registered before 1 July 2017.
For 100% electric vehicles registered in the Walloon Region, you only have to pay the minimum road tax of €77.35.
Brussels Metropolitan Region
For 100% electric vehicles registered in the Brussels Metropolitan Region, you only have to pay the minimum road tax of €77.35.
Tax incentives will also be introduced for e-bikes, three-wheel and four-wheel bikes, electric scooters etc.
Additional incentive measures
Suppose you (Fredrik Andresen, CEO Batteriretur) were named minister of E-mobility in Belgium. What three measures would you introduce?
1. Halve the tax on the use of fully electric company cars by employees
2. Are there toll roads in Belgium? Then I would make them free for the electric cars of families with young children (not for company cars)
3. No VAT or other tax on electric cars in the first ten years.
Fredrik Andresen, CEO Batteriretur (Norway)
In addition, there are of course plenty of other measures that could be used to facilitate and accelerate the breakthrough in electric driving.
Philippe Decrock (Legal and Public Affairs manager, Bebat) has his own personal favourites:
a central database for all charging infrastructure throughout the whole of Belgium
using the Mobility Budget to create tax incentives for electric cars (company cars?)
promoting the use of company e-bikes
creating incentives for charging at home and storing local energy in a home battery via the energy suppliers
the setting up of a European guarantee fund to encourage passenger transport companies (both public and private) throughout the whole of Europe to buy more electric buses. Transport companies can then get support from that fund if the operating range of the battery in a new bus is lower than expected
interoperability (the integration of different autonomous, heterogeneous systems, devices, and units so that they can communicate and work together with each other) of charging infrastructure is absolutely essential by the year 2020
support for the trade in second-hand electric vehicles.
Norway – Belgium: What we can learn from the Norwegian situation?
Compared to Norway, it is noticeable how Belgium is mainly relying on financial and taxation incentives.
Although Norway uses those types of incentives as well, it also has other ways of making e-car driving more attractive. Driving an e-car is not only good for the environment and has financial benefits, but as an e-driver you also enjoy a number of other attractive privileges, such as using bus lanes, free parking, toll-free ferries, and so on.
The Norwegian example shows that above all a mix of measures, implemented consistently over a long period, can really help to promote growth.
Stability in policy makes a difference.
Even major changes can be achieved if the government adopts a single-minded and consistent policy over a longer period.
Financial benefits and tax incentives are not the only answer.
With a bit of creativity, other measures can be introduced, like privileges for e-drivers who are allowed to use bus lanes during rush hours.
A boost for e-mobility is also a boost for the local economy.
The rollout of the necessary infrastructure can create numerous economic opportunities. It will generate work for local businesses, from the planning and installation of charging equipment to the development and implementation of software.
Sharing EV expertise can have a spin-off effect.
Other countries that have problems with pollution (like China) and/or want to achieve certain climate targets will be turning to “the best in class” for solutions. Norway is therefore keen to share the wealth of experience it has built up over many years in the field of e-mobility.
How do you see the future of e-mobility in Norway?
“With its small population and its wealth, Norway can become 100% non-polluting in record time - at least, as regards pollution by the automobile sector. I believe that we need to spend a larger proportion of our income from oil on R&D, for there will be a “post-peak oil period” for Norway. This is an opportunity. We must also open the doors to others, for inventors of new technologies. In future, the volumes and importance of batteries will certainly increase. I am convinced that we and other partners need to share even more information within our battery network, and exchange experiences in order to continue developing the sector.
It looks like Norway is planning to stick to the policy of stimulation that was launched back in the 1990s, and to take advantage of the leadership position they have wherever possible.
Norway is aiming for 100% zero-emission new passenger vehicles and light vans by 2030. Is this target easy to reach, or are there obstacles?
“No, this is not an easy objective. We have an old fleet of cars that needs time to be phased out. BUT: as from 2025, no more polluting cars will be sold in Norway, and that will indeed help. We need to maintain tax advantages and other subsidies. The fact is that the current delivery of electric and hybrid cars is unable to keep up. We have waiting lists of 2 years and more for various electric vehicles.”
Fredrik Andresen, CEO Batteriretur (Norway)
Challenges for the future in the field of recycling
The arrival of the electric car has also brought new technology with it. And a key part of it is the EV battery. In Norway, Batteriretur is the no. 1 specialist in the downstream reprocessing of EV batteries.
Fredrik Andresen, CEO of Batteriretur, gives his own vision on the success story of e-mobility in Norway and the challenges facing his company.
There's no denying it: EV batteries are extremely powerful lithium-ion batteries that have to be handled very carefully, even after their first life.
And there have occasionally been some negative stories about EV batteries in the media. This is a perception that needs to be corrected. EV batteries can be recycled (recycling) and their separate elements completely reused (reuse). They can also be used in other applications, such as the storage of (solar) energy. We are currently only just beginning to explore the potential of these so-called “second-life” applications.
Philippe Decrock (Bebat).
* Dismantling an EFV-battery at Bebat
But EV batteries already have a lot to offer right now, he quickly adds:
“They can be recycled and their separate elements completely reused. Some important studies have shown that the economic life of batteries in electric vehicles only diminishes by 1% per 30,000 km, which makes them a lot more efficient than their counterparts in fossil fuel vehicles.”
The evolution of EV batteries is advancing rapidly. And in many different ways: they are improving in performance, becoming more compact, contain alternatives to lithium and cobalt, and so on.
“More and more batteries will be produced. Battery technology will also evolve, which will automatically lower prices. New developments, such as the solid state battery, will offer even more possibilities for electric cars in the future.”
If Belgium succeeds in following the same evolutionary path as Norway, then we need to start preparing for the safe dismantling and recycling of a growing number of used EV batteries.
Is Belgium also ready to make this major transformation in the future? We put this question to Peter Coonen, CEO of Bebat
It takes specific technical knowledge to handle EV batteries in the proper way. Over the last five years, Bebat has organised the collection and recycling of over 10,000 EV batteries in Belgium and Europe. Bebat therefore knows all the ins and outs of the business and has gathered plenty of expertise. Via its subsidiary Sortbat, Bebat already has a dedicated service for the dismantling of EV batteries. We reduce the large EV batteries to “shoebox size”, and in that way we can prepare for recycling. Bebat and Sortbat will soon have their own diagnostics centre which they can use to evaluate the suitability of EV batteries for use in second-life applications.
In addition, Bebat has also been involved in the creation of Reneos, a European online collection system for EV batteries, which car dealers and car dismantling companies across the whole of Europe, and even outside of Europe, can use to arrange the expert and safe collection of their EV batteries. The collections are then carried out via Bebat and its European partners.
A key aspect of everything we do is the way we are able to provide our clients with customised solutions. Most car manufacturers are looking for specific solutions, sometimes for the entire chain of collection, storage, evaluation, dismantling, recycling, and reuse, but some are only looking for a solution that covers just one or two links of this chain. Bebat has the flexibility to do both, so clients can choose what they want, and what they don't want.
Bebat and batteries go hand in hand, and EV batteries are no exception. Bebat has been providing safe and verifiable solutions for every type of battery for more than 20 years. So keep those EV batteries coming: the more, the better!
Is your company (Batteriretur Norway) ready for the future?
“Yes of course, we are ready. We have invested and will invest even more, together with our owners, in order to guarantee safe and controlled handling of high-voltage batteries. Safe, because we must never underestimate the risks for the employees who handle used EV batteries. The lack of legislation in that area is a problem, as the technology outstripped the legislation years ago. We must put pressure to ensure that everything is done in the right way.”