Norway’s four electric cars for every 1,000 passenger cars puts it well ahead of the United States, where electric vehicle sales account for a mere 0.6% of all vehicles sold (through November 2012) and even other similar European countries such as Sweden (0.13%). What can other European countries learn from Norway’s exemplary efforts to help its citizens enter a future of sustainable transportation?

Norway’s success relies largely on a wide scale combination of measures which have been individually commonly acknowledged as essential to successful EV build-up. These measures include both incentivizing measures as well as those which discourage the purchase of traditional, gas-fueled vehicles, an approach which, yet again, is hardly news to government authorities wrestling with their own EV plans. In addition to the usual tax incentives and purchase subsidies and discouraging measures, such as increased gas-taxes, Norway has also introduced other incentivizing measures, including an exemption from import taxes, leading to a marked sales increase for the Nissan Leaf, and priority access to bus-lanes in Oslo and free parking in city owned spaces.

Another country making significant strides towards expanding EV ownership is Estonia. Estonian EV sales rates continue to trail those of world leading Norway, but the country is making significant strides with a rate of 1 EV for every 1,000 passenger cars. Hoping to further drive EV adoption, Estonia’s government has recently increased its efforts to raise consumer interest in EVs and hybrids. A new subsidy plan offers from €3,000 to €12,000 per EV, depending on the battery type. The new plan comes in addition to an existing EV subsidy plan offering a maximum of €18,000 as well as another €1,000 towards the purchase of home charging equipment.  Furthermore, the country has also supported this development through an ambitious infrastructure build-up program. As a result, there are now 144 chargers available in Estonia, upon completion the country’s network will include a total of 163 chargers and charging will be free until end of January 2013.

These forward-thinking and aggressive plans from other near-by countries should encourage others in the region to reconsider the effectiveness of their own programs and take these lessons to heart in developing equivalent measures of their own.

Read more: Information on Norway’s forward-thinking EV program

Information on Estonia’s EV programs

Finnish EV adoption rates and car sales figures from Statistics Finland