Elon Musk loves Norway, and a quick ride through capital city Oslo shows why

Key Points
  • Norway offers generous subsidies for electric vehicles, and they're everywhere
  • The country's capital, Oslo, is full of charging stations
  • Norway also has a $920 billion oil fund

Tesla CEO Elon Musk loves Norway, once deeming it an "amazingly awesome country."

Norway seems to love him back, selecting him earlier this year for its "Oslo Business for Peace" award for his work to promote alternatives to fossil fuels.

The Scandinavian country has now become a model for electric car ownership. It boasts the highest rates of electric vehicles in the world, with the government offering generous subsidies and incentives to bolster adoption.

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During my tour of Oslo, Norway's capital and most populous city, I spotted Teslas and Nissan Leafs on almost every street.

Nearly a quarter of vehicles on the road are electric or hybrid. That number is expected to rise, with EV's representing nearly 40% of newly registered cars. The government's goal is to rid the nation of all fossil-fuel powered cars by 2025, which would reduce the country's carbon footprint given that most of its electricity comes from hydropower.

Elon Musk tweeted about it.

To make it easy for citizens to drive EVs, electric charging stations are prevalent. From anywhere in the city, a station was no more than a 5 to 10 minute drive away. There's also tool-free travel for electric cars and privileged parking.

An electric car charging station in Oslo, Norway.

And that's if citizens and visitors choose to drive at all. One notable aspect to Oslo's downtown is the striking lack of cars, in favor of buses and bicycles. It hints at the future of urban cities, if self-driving cars from companies like Google to Uber begin to replace car ownership.

The shift away from polluting automobiles might come as a surprise, given Norway's $920 billion government pension fund, which is funded through profits from oil holdings in the North Sea.

But as the Financial Times recently reported, it has missed out on earning billions of dollars in recent years, with the government prohibiting investments in more than 100 businesses on ethical grounds, including tobacco companies, companies that extract too much coal, and nuclear weapons manufacturers.

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