Boom of Electric Cars in Norway Causes Problem

Oslo- The Norwegian capital is suffering from a problem, which may be raising discontent and dissatisfaction in other environmentally-aware cities. The problem is that Oslo’s residents are buying a lot of electric cars, so that the local government can hardly cope with them.

In fact, the Association of Electric Vehicles is seeking to discourage drivers from buying electric cars, if they do not have the capacities of charging them at home.

Peter Hogniland, a spokesman for the Electric Vehicles Association, said the local authorities did not deploy a sufficient number of charging stations to keep up with the number of the sold electric cars.

He added that the rate of newly registered electric and hybrid vehicles reached 35 percent, noting that one in three cars sold in Norway is electric. This rate hits 40 percent in Oslo. The Greater Oslo Region has witnessed the registration of over 50,000 electric cars, and 30,000 hybrid car, according to an official from the capital’s Urban Environment Agency.

Meanwhile, there are only 1,300 domestic charging stations for electric vehicles. The official said: “we are doing our best. Every year, charging stations grow to more than 26 percent, however, the number of electric vehicles has increased by more than 100 percent, and the gap is getting wider.

The Norwegian news agency explained that the main reason behind the boom of electric cars is the financial privileges provided by the government, including the suspension of the value added tax (VAT) and customs fees on the exported cars and engines. This means that the electric version of many cars is cheaper than the traditional ones with internal combustion engine (ICE).

Hogniland says: “In Norway, you pay over 250,000 Norwegian krone ($31,475) for an electric Golf car, and over 300,000 krone for a gasoline-powered Golf, and here is the difference.”

All these privileges aim at fulfilling the ambitious commitment that by 2025, all newly registered vehicles in Norway must be zero-emission vehicles.

This goal can be achieved by using the “carrot and stick” approach: the carrot takes the form of tax exemptions for those who drive electric vehicles, while the stick is the taxes and high gasoline prices for those who stick to fossil fuels.

Britain Plans Billion-Pound Boost for Electric Cars


London — ِAs part of plans to invest 2.5 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) by 2021 to help meet its climate change targets, Britain will spend one billion pounds to promote electric and other low-emission vehicles, and step up spending on research and innovation, Reuters reported.

The government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which details government spending between 2015 and 2021, includes heavy investment in science, research and innovation to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Around 900 million pounds will be spent on innovation. This includes 265 million pounds for smart energy, 460 million pounds to support new nuclear technology and 177 million pounds to help develop new technology to further reduce the cost of renewables such as innovations in turbine blades for wind power.

The funding will cover programmes in the energy, transport, agriculture and waste sectors.

The government said it said it would spend one billion pounds “supporting the take-up of ultra low-emission vehicles, including helping consumers to overcome the upfront cost of an electric car,” but gave no details of how the scheme would work.

In July, the government said it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040.

Britain has a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, blamed for global warming, by 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990.

Government data showed by the end of 2016 Britain was more than half way to meeting the target, having cut GHG emissions by 42 percent compared with 1990 levels.

The government will invest up to 100 million pounds in technology to capture, use and store carbon dioxide emissions and in industrial innovations to drive down emissions, according to the plan published on Thursday.

Sale of Petrol, Diesel Vehicles Banned in UK by 2040

Moving to cut down air pollution, Britain announced on Wednesday the soon to be outlawing of sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans as of 2040. Environmentalists, however, dismissed the proposals as shortcoming and not enough.

The ban on petrol and diesel cars as well as vans follows a similar proposal by the French government, and will also include hybrid vehicles that have an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine.

“The Conservatives had a manifesto promise to ensure that by 2050 there would be no diesel or petrol vehicles on the road and today we’re confirming that should mean no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” Gove told BBC Radio 4.

Environment minister Michael Gove announced the move as part of the government’s keenly-awaited £3 billion ($3.9 billion, 3.4 billion euro) air pollution plan, which will demand that councils propose measures by March next year to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.

Britain’s High Court demanded that the government produce plans to tackle illegal NO2 pollution, largely caused by diesel emissions, and a draft report was published in May, but the full report was delayed by last month’s snap general election.

The government will provide local councils with £255 million to bring NO2 levels to legal levels, with possible solutions including the removal of speed humps, reprogramming traffic lights and changing road layouts.

Campaigners want cities to impose entry fees on diesel drivers, but councils will only be allowed to do so if no other measures are available, with ministers wary of “punishing” drivers of cars who bought their vehicles in good faith, according to media reports.

On that not , Norway, which is aiming to end the use of all cars running on fossil fuels by 2025, offers generous tax breaks for electric vehicles as well as free parking and the use of bus lanes.

Kuwait Petroleum International Chief: Refineries Will Continue despite Increased Electric Cars Production


Istanbul – The future of oil demand in wake of the growing request for electric cars was at the heart of discussions among officials and executives during the World Petroleum Congress (WPC) held in Istanbul, Turkey last week.

International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol made a few key points on the matter and told the audience during the conference that by the end of 2016, there were 2 million electric cars in the world, which is less than 1 percent of total global car sales. He did however state that by 2040, the percentage will be “troubling”.

Despite those fears, chairman of Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI and known as Q8) Bekhit Rashidi stated that despite growing request for plug-in cars, the world will continue to build oil refineries.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that refined energy will increase from 97 million barrels per day to 110 by 2040, which, according to him, is a proof that the demand for oil will continue.

Despite his optimism, Rashidi did not make light of the impact of the increase in electric car production on the demand for traditional fuel, acknowledging that it will take a share of oil production in the future.

“Oil is losing about 200,000 bpd today to electric cars. By 2040, this number is expected to increase to 6 million bpd,” he stated.

Fears of the increased demand on electric cars emerged this month after France announced it will stop selling cars running on gas and diesel as of 2040, while Volvo is planning to gradually shift to electric cars and aims to sell one million by 2025.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expects 530 million plug-in cars on the road by 2040, a third of the world’s total.

Future of refineries

Established in 1983, Kuwait Petroleum International is the international subsidiary of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, which combines elements of the Kuwait oil sector under one corporate umbrella and is recognized as one of the world’s top ten energy conglomerates.

KPI wants to add or expand refining capacity outside of Kuwait and is looking at the growing markets of China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Rashidi announced that the company wants to expand refining capacity to 1.3 million bpd beyond 2030, and Kuwaiti crude will supply at least 65 percent of all of KPI’s new refineries outside of Kuwait.

Industry’s profit margins should be robust until 2023 or 2024, but may narrow after that due to potential excess capacity, he said.

KPI plans to be able to refine 800,000 bpd outside of Kuwait within five years, including at a plant under construction in Vietnam, Rashidi said.

The company wants to expand refining capacity to 1.3 million bpd as of 2030, and Kuwaiti crude will supply at least 65 percent of all of KPI’s new refineries outside Kuwait.

Increased production

In order to be able to increase the number of refineries outside the country, Kuwait plans to raise oil-production capacity to as much as 4.75 million bpd after 2030.

OPEC member Kuwait can currently pump up to 3.15 million bpd and is planning to increase capacity to 4 million by 2020 and to keep it at that level until 2030, Rashidi told Bloomberg in Istanbul on the sidelines of WPC.

Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, the company in charge of the nation’s oil production, is considering boosting capacity to 4.75 million bpd by 2040, he added.

“This is one of the targets, and it is not approved yet, but we will definitely go beyond 4 million barrels a day starting from 2030,” Rashidi stated.

To reach that goal, KPI is considering expanding processing plants to China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

“We see growth in these countries, so we will be there,”pointed out Rashidi.

In addition, Rashidi declared that KPI has an initial agreement with Petrovietnam to expand the Vietnam plant’s capacity from 200,000 bpd to 400,000 after 2025, which would also include a petrochemical plant.

“The future in the business is for big refineries with integrated petrochemical plants,” the KPI CEO said.

KPI is currently working on developing a refinery in Duqm, Oman, in collaboration with the state-owned Oman Oil Company, which will have the capacity to produce 230,000 bpd.

The refinery is expected to be done by 2021 and is estimated to cost $7 billion.

Electric Vehicles on Roads Reach Two Million, Says IEA

London- A report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that the number of electric cars worldwide reached over two million by the end of 2016, and that automakers sold 750,000 cars last year with 40 percent growth rate compared to 2015 sales.

In 2015, sales had grown by 50 percent compared to 2014. The Chinese market had around a 45 percent share of the 2016 sales with over 336,000 cars compared to 215,000 cars in Europe, and 160,000 in the United States.

In the few first months of 2017, sales grew by 37 percent in Europe and 18 percent in the United States till April.

Globally, 95 percent of electric car sales are taking place in just ten countries: China, the US, Japan, Canada, Norway, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Although China is the biggest auto market after the United States, it has topped the countries with high demand on electric cars driven by a government plans to reduce pollution.

The European market of electric cars relies on six countries providing fiscal exemptions to motivate people on buying such cars. In Norway, fiscal incentives reached 29 percent and other Europeans pay over 5000 or 6000 euro for each purchase of electric cars. In the Netherlands, electric cars had a 6.4 percent market share last year, while Sweden had 3.4 percent, according to the IEA report.

Still, electric vehicles only made up 0.2 percent of total passenger light-duty vehicles in the world, which means that for each 1,000 traditional vehicles, only two electric cars are being sold.

The report says that in order to limit global warming by the end of the century, the number of electric cars will need to reach 600 million by 2040. The electric cars industry should be gradually developed so 9 and 20 million electric cars could be deployed by 2020, and between 40 and 70 million by 2025, and so on till sales reach the set goal in 2040.

Analysts in this field said as this sector emerged few years ago, the view is still foggy, but, the growth rate is more expressive than figures. The sector will benefit from the support of motivating government measures for a long time. Big companies aiming to benefit from specific exemptions are the biggest users of electric cars.

However, individuals rarely choose them because of their high cost and non-efficient battery service.

Although the manufacturers’ offer and the technological development in this industry are growing, the electric is less competent than a thermal traditional vehicle, which sees continuous developments to reduce emissions ratio.

In this context, experts raise many questions on the efficiency of government support for electric cars, while a thermal car can contribute in reducing the gap of environmental effect. Some countries have reduced their support; in the State of Georgia which had around 17 percent of the share of US electric cars and offered people $5,000 support for each purchase, the concerned authorities started to reduce incentives. Denmark also has re-imposed taxes on those cars and dropped the support by 60 percent in the first four months of 2017.

The same was applied in China where the government reconsidered the fiscal incentives and their effect on the public fund; in France, a report released by the audit bureau wondered about the feasibility of the continuous support of this industry, while the use of electric cars saw a slight growth to 8 percent in 2016.

Researchers working in the traditional vehicles industry pointed out that automakers are trying to cope with the authorities calling for emission reduction not by investing in developing electric prototypes, but in deploying eco-friendly qualifications on thermal cars.

However, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) still calls on governments to increase support and incentives on electric vehicles regardless of their cost and the volatile oil prices. According to the IEA, thermal and electric cars should not be compared, rather they should be considered two integral industries.

However, other experts see that the 40 percent growth rate in 2016, was lower than rates between 2012-2015. They also considered that the two-million car figure is not accurate, because it includes the hybrid cars that work with two engines.

According to those experts, the industry of electric cars has reached a decisive point. It can continue with the government support with no clear vision for the future, or it can be left for free competition that will decide the industry’s future, development, and survival.

GM Expects Promising Future for Electric Cars in Middle East

London- Anthony Riemann, director of Corporate Strategy & Planning in General Motors Group, expected the car industry to see drastic changes within the coming decade.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Riemann said electric cars will soon hit the region. He stated that General Motors is ready to cooperate with the local authorities in equipping the services’ networks needed for the future electric cars.

Riemann considered that the “Bolt”, the newest electric car from General Motors, has changed the rules of the game in the automotive industry, after it crossed a distance of 380 km before needing a battery recharge.

On the other hand, Riemann said the future will be totally different from what we see on the roads today. In the future cities, the user will prefer to share the car and not to own it. The company made its efforts in this project.

Here is the text of the interview:

*How do you see the future of electric cars in the region?

– We see a promising future for electric cars in the Middle East. We will be delighted to cooperate with the concerned authorities to make sure that the needed restrictions and infrastructure are available to operate an electric car and support the consumer.

* How do you see the GCC cities’ transportation in the future?

– In some of the GCC areas, we see some urban citizens who really care about modern technologies. Those people are considered the core of the future transportation means.

* What are the trends adopted by General Motors in choosing the future engines among electric, hybrid, or fuel?

– We have an inclusive program that covers different types of alternative engines like the hybrid and electric systems. We had unveiled a trial car that works with hydrogen; we are actually selling hybrid cars, and we recently unveiled the “Bolt Chevrolet”, an electric car that received many awards due to the long service it provides before it needs a battery recharge. In the past six years, we invested over two billion dollars on research of electric engines.

* What are GM’s innovations in the field of future cars?

– Over a decade, the concept of car ownership didn’t change, but communities changed and people now make an integral part of the economy. General Motors looks at the future of transportation and admits the need for a change so it can be part of this development.

People do not care about possessing a car. Rather, they need the car to respond to their needs even for a short term. Therefore, we have adopted many techniques to launch the concept of “car-sharing” known as “Maven” in the United States. According to this concept, the user can book a car and pay for his booking through a smartphone app, drive the vehicle for the time he needs, and then return it. This concept responds to the needs of different categories and provides cars from all types and sizes. “Maven” achieved a great success in US cities, and GM has participated in it with 37 million hours of use till date. The company seeks to expand this concept in more areas and with different techniques.

* Do you think that driverless cars are a good idea for the near future, despite some incidents, including the last fatal accident in Florida?

– There are many levels of autonomous driving. A 100 percent driverless car is still far reach. However, driverless cars will hit the markets before the time we set. Currently, the company is testing a fleet of the “Chevrolet Bolt” driverless electric car in the United States. Our top priority is safety, therefore, we are studying all the aspects of this trial before promoting this car in the market. At the same time, we will continue in developing the driver-support techniques we apply in many of our cars and their communication techniques till we reach the final phase of autonomous driving.

* The unification of standards concerning charging, systems of autonomous driving, and communication among cars are aspects that need agreement among different companies. Does General Motors make any effort to support such cooperation with other companies?

– The industry is currently witnessing a drastic change. We have agreed with other companies on the joint goals concerning the techniques that suit the region. We are proud to cooperate with the local authorities on the future of transportation, and we are fully ready to use the knowledge we acquired over the years to help in setting a regulative frame that suits consumer interests.

Demand on Electric Cars Declines in Germany

Germany- Media reports in Germany have revealed that demand of individuals and companies on electric cars has kept declining, despite all the privileges given to motivate people on purchasing eco-friendly vehicles.

According to a local economic newspaper specialized in automotive news, out of a total €1.2 billion allocated to reward people buying electric cars, only €55 million have been spent.

The newspaper noted that requests submitted to the federal bureau of economy and censure on imports in Eschborn city to buy electric cars exceeded 15,000 by the end of March.

Of note, the reward concept has kicked off in July 2016, with a retroactive effect including people who bought electric cars starting May 18.

The offered rewards are as follows: €4,000 for electric cars, €3,000 for hybrid cars; the German government contributes in paying 50 percent of this reward, while the manufacturing company pays the other 50 percent by offering the client a discount when purchasing the car.

Technically, the value allocated for this reward, covers the purchase of over 300,000 cars. This concept will be suspended by the end of June 2019.

Britain’s Biggest Carmaker Plans Building Electric Cars

Britain’s biggest carmarker Jaguar Land Rover announced plans on building electric cars in Britain, just two days after the government promised $484 million worth endowment to support greener technologies.

Green technologies are those aspiring to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment, and perhaps help with the climate challenge facing the world.

“We want to build our EVs (electric vehicles) in the West Midlands, in the home of our design and engineering,” Chief Executive Ralf Speth told an industry meeting on Thursday evening according to a spokeswoman.

Speth told Reuters in September it made sense to build electric batteries and cars in Britain if the conditions, including pilot testing and support from science, were right.

Any new production would be seen as a further boost to the automotive sector following the Brexit vote after Japanese carmaker Nissan said it would build two new models at the country’s biggest car plant.

Jaguar Land Rover wants half of its cars to be available in an electric version by the end of the decade, after showcasing its first electric car at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month.