Norway Is The First Country Where EVs Outsell Gas-Burning Cars

DETROIT, UNITED STATES: Ford Motor Co President and CEO Jacques Nasser poses next to the THINK electric city car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit 06 January. Ford has entered into an agreement to obtain majority interest in Norwegian-based Pivco Industries, the manufacturer of the two passenger THINK, a lightweight, plastic bodied, zero emission vehicle. Ford will assist Pivco in the introduction of THINK in Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweeden before the end of 1999. AFP PHOTO JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Ford Motor Co President and CEO Jacques Nasser poses next to the THINK electric city car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit 06 January. Ford has entered into an agreement to obtain majority interest in Norwegian-based Pivco Industries, the manufacturer of the two passenger THINK, a lightweight, plastic bodied, zero emission vehicle.
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)
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This is the first year that more than 50 percent of new cars sold in a country were EVs. Well, depending on how far you stretch your timeline. All that and more in The Morning Shift for January 5, 2021.

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1st Gear: In The Modern Era, That Is

Though we are starting to see the sun set on the internal combustion era, there was a time before that sun rose in the first place. Around the turn of the century (the 20th century) before the Model T or Cadillac’s electric starter, EVs weren’t some weird oddity. All cars were weird in those early days, and EVs sold rather well, in part because people weren’t driving all that much anyway and hand-cranks could break your fingers or arm. The biggest taxi company in the world was all-electric for a good while, even.

In any case, here’s the news about Norway’s mostly-electric 2020, via the AFP:

Im December, electric car sales set a monthly record in Norway with 66.7 percent, with the numbers boosted by the arrival of new models, OFV said.Industry group Norsk elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association) said separately to AFP that Norway was the first country to break the overall 50 percent threshold. Norway, the largest producer of oil in Western Europe, is making headway in electric mobility thanks to heavy subsidies.

The Nordic country, where electricity is primarily produced from hydroelectric dams, aims to have all new cars being “zero emission” by 2025.

Norway is small, but it is an oil-heavy country with money to burn, so that gives me some hope that we here in America could do the same with enough infrastructure investment and subsidies.

2nd Gear: Driverless Cars Are Hard, Says Driverless Car CEO

The cool CEO thing to say used to be that driverless cars were right around the corner. Now, the cool CEO thing to say is that driverless cars are hard, presenting yourself as a world-weary wise one. I give you Waymo’s John Krafcik, speaking to the Financial Times:

“It’s an extraordinary grind,” said John Krafcik, Waymo chief executive, in an interview with the Financial Times. “I would say it’s a bigger challenge than launching a rocket and putting it in orbit around the Earth . . . because it has to be done safely over and over and over again.”

Gone is the optimism of just a couple of years ago. In March 2018, Waymo confidently forecast that “up to 20,000” electric Jaguars “will be built in the first two years of production and be available for riders of Waymo’s driverless service, serving a potential 1m trips per day”.

Two months later, it added that “up to 62,000” Chrysler minivans would join its driverless fleet, “starting in late 2018”.

Today, there is little sign that any of these vehicles have been order

Saying that your entire business is “an extraordinary grind” is easier on investors and your job security than saying “it’s maybe impossible and might never happen.”

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3rd Gear: Magna Working With Fisker On Driver-Assistance Tech

Magna is a giant in the world of auto parts suppliers. I guess, uh, it doesn’t hurt to do some work with forever-startup Fisker, per Automotive News:

Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. said on Monday it would work with Fisker to develop an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) for the EV maker’s Ocean SUV, expected to launch in late 2022.

The ADAS technology will use digital imaging radar technology in addition to cameras and ultrasonic sensors, Magna said in a statement. The supplier said the ADAS package includes “a unique and first-to-market digital imaging radar technology.” Co-developed with Austin, Texas-based technology startup Uhnder, Icon Radar is being called by Magna “the first digital imaging, single-chip radar solution for the automotive marketplace.”

In December, Fisker said Magna would initially be the exclusive manufacturer of its Ocean SUV in Europe, finalizing a deal originally signed with the auto supplier in October.

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In any case, good for Fisker.

4th Gear: Jeep Keeps Blocking Mahindra But Now It Wants Piece Of The Indian Market?

Well this is rude! Jeep has repeatedly fought to keep the Mahindra Roxor on the margins here in the United States, pushing against the legendary Indian manufacturer of Jeeps.

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Now Jeep is pushing to make a foothold in India, which seems disrespectful. At hand is a $250 million investment, as Reuters reports:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) said on Tuesday it will invest $250 million to grow its presence in India with the launch of four new sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) under its Jeep brand over the next two years.

The investment will be made to locally manufacture a mid-size, three-row SUV, assemble the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee vehicles in the country and launch a new version of its Jeep Compass SUV, FCA said in a statement.

FCA currently has less than a 1% share of India’s passenger vehicle market.

If you want to profit off of car sales in India, is it right to do so while suppressing an Indian company in your home market?

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5th Gear: We Grovel Before You, Rich, Car-Buying Neighbors

Did you buy a new car in 2020? No? Neither did I! But your rich neighbor probably did plunk down some money on a new truck or crossover. The car market here in the United States was pretty much buoyed by the rich, who fiddled while the country burned, as Bloomberg reported yesterday:

Premium brands have been among the biggest beneficiaries. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Alfa Romeo nameplate, Tesla Inc. and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.’s Volvo Car AB unit all will likely log sales gains over 2019, according to TrueCar. Brands with the fastest-rising prices included Volkswagen AG units Audi and Porsche, BMW AG’s eponymous marque and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz.

“Luxury vehicle sales were an unexpected sales story for 2020, with higher-income Americans, some of whom were not as financially impacted by the pandemic, delivering strong luxury vehicle purchases this year,” Nick Woolard, TrueCar’s director of OEM analytics, said in a statement. “Even Lamborghini broke sales records in 2020.”

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When Alfa Romeo is a standout success, you know things are backwards.

Reverse: The Flying School Bus

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Neutral: What Would It Take To Get You Into An EV?

I am charmed by the idea of snagging a used Leaf like my coworker Brad, but I don’t exactly need a new-ish car at all. I guess a ban on wheezy, carbureted old cars like mine would be what it’d take to get me into one. What would you need?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

pmb2012
NEBcruiser

Can someone help me understand why the heck there’s such a big push (billions and billions of dollars) for autonomous cars? And I sometimes get the feeling on this website that some commenters and staff writers actually want the tech. Why the heck would anybody want to let a car drive? If I wanted to be driven, I’d take the bus...Just kidding, our bus system stinks in Omaha, and waiting outside in the dog days of summer or the dead of winter is for the birds. Would a staff writer care to chime in with their thoughts on self-driving cars? Do you want them? If so, why?

Also, good for Norway. It makes sense that a tiny nation (less than half the population of Illinois, just twice the area of Nebraska), populated by people who don’t drive that many miles, would be the fastest to adopt EVs.