Over 40 policy makers and climate, transport and energy experts from all three Baltic countries visited Oslo this week for a study visit focusing on the development of sustainable mobility solutions and electric transport infrastructure in alignment with Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.
The initiator of the experience exchange visit was the company "Møller Baltic Import". The trip was organized in a close cooperation between the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Latvia and the Norwegian Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce and the Norwegian Estonian Chamber of Commerce with the aim of learning Norway's experience in solving sustainable transport and climate issues in order to promote a more efficient transition of the Baltic states to sustainable mobility, while strengthening the energy independence of the region.
"By jointly planning the e-mobility promotion policy of the Baltic region, we have the opportunity to adopt the example of Norway's good practice on a Baltic scale. Political consensus, development of state policies and coordinated action are prerequisites that can contribute to the development of the Baltic States region. The EU's Green Deal strategy, moving towards climate neutrality, has in principle determined the direction of the automotive industry's development, and will also have a significant impact on changing consumer habits in the future. That is why we are already adapting to this development vector and envisage large-scale investments in the development of environmentally friendly solutions. In the coming years, the Volkswagen group plans to invest 89 billion euros in the development of the industry, including 52 billion in the development of e-mobility solutions. In 2030, the range of brands represented by the group will include approximately 70 electric car models, thus creating a diverse offer. At the same time, it is urgent to promote the development of a unified infrastructure and network of charging stations on a Latvian and all-Baltic scale, as well as to improve the program of state support mechanisms both for the purchase of electric cars and for daily use. It is clear that such a transition is a path full of challenges, but we have the opportunity to borrow the experience of other countries that have so far successfully implemented e-mobility and climate sustainability development programs," states the wholesaler of "Volkswagen" in the Baltics and "Audi" in Latvia and Lithuania Ilze Grase-Ķibilde, executive director of "Møller Baltic Import".
During the visit, representatives of the Baltic States were introduced to the legislative, tax and support programs implemented by Norway, examples of close cooperation between state administration and local government institutions, as well as practical infrastructure solutions that have enabled Norway to become a leading country in the world in terms of e-mobility and electric car use.
"The key to the success of e-mobility in Norway is a successful interaction between the development of the infrastructure, providing an affordable and convenient charging option for electric cars throughout the country, and a successful and stimulating policy of taxes and incentives, as well as state support for the owners of these cars. Significant growth of e-mobility was facilitated by the electrification of popular and modern car models in the market, giving consumers the opportunity to choose their favorite car brands and models with electric drive. Thus, it is very important to simultaneously develop both infrastructure and ensure a diverse offer of electric cars. On the other hand, to promote purchasing power, we need to think about both state support mechanisms for the purchase of electric cars and a stimulating tax system," says Ulf Tore Hekneby, CEO of "Harald A. Møller".
In developing a targeted e-mobility policy, the Norwegian government introduced several e-mobility stimulating measures and a set of support systems. Their scope has changed over the years, but the main emphasis has been on making electric cars more financially viable for their owners and end users. For example, in Norway, the registration of electric cars is free, the purchase is not subject to VAT (it should be mentioned that these rates have increased over the years for cars with internal combustion engines), and a policy of taxes and incentives has been established. In addition, convenient use of electric cars is encouraged: access to public transport lanes, free parking, etc.
Although all three Baltic countries have seen a gradually growing demand for electric cars in recent years, they only account for less than 3% of the total Baltic car market. At the same time, there is a change in consumer habits. The main reasons why citizens increasingly prefer electric cars are the use of alternative, including more economically advantageous, energy resources.
"Every day we observe an increasing interest of consumers in the offer of electric cars, which has been significantly promoted by the entry of new models into the market, as well as state support for the purchase of electric cars. As fuel prices continue to rise, more and more customers are evaluating the possibility of switching from a conventional internal combustion engine car to an electric car for rational financial reasons. At the same time, electric car owners also have several other advantages, including lower car operating taxes, reduced expenses for technical maintenance, free parking lots and other extras," emphasizes Izīda Gerkena, executive director of the retailer "Møller Auto" group of companies.
In the European Union, transport generates 20% of the total CO2 emissions, therefore EU policies are aimed at reducing the volume of total car emissions and achieving complete climate neutrality by 2050. In a relatively short period of time, Norway has managed to implement a successful e-mobility development policy, becoming the leading country in the world with the proportionally largest number of registered electric cars. Currently, approximately 78% of all new registered cars are electric cars.
Representatives of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian state administrations, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and companies, as well as climate and transport specialists, participated in the Norway-Baltic experience visit to Oslo. The visit from Latvia was attended by experts from the Auto Association, Latvian Large Cities Association, Real Estate Developers Alliance, Riga City Council and Ogre County Council, as well as representatives from the innovation movement "VEFRESH" and the business environment. Representatives of the state administration and municipal sector, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations and companies, also participated in the visit from Lithuania and Estonia.