Generation Z: Experiencing Oslo's Mobility Solutions Transformation with Tass Brecht
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Hey Tass! Thanks for being able to do this Interview, where are you at the moment?
With pleasure and thanks for having me. Currently I am undergoing an Internship in the EV capital of the World – Oslo. I am working at the Nordic EV Association and together with a small team we are organizing the Nordic EV Summit. However, I must also say that I only joined a few weeks ago and that the team has been working on this for several months now.

That sounds interesting, please tell us more about the Nordic EV Summit.
Well, it is a highly renowned venue for the EV industry in Europe. If I’m not mistaken it is probably the biggest dedicated EV-event in Scandinavia, if not Europe! For example, 2019 over 1,000 participants from over 40 different countries and 80 speakers participated. It’s an international conference organized by the Norwegian EV Association and Norway Trade Fairs on the electrification of the transport sector. The talks range from charging solutions to sustainable battery production to EV policies.

So, you are basically new to Oslo, what’s your first impression on the Electric Vehicle situation up there?
From visual appearances you realize straight away that Oslo has more electric cars per capita than any other city in the world. Nearly every car you see is electric and no matter in what part of the city – maybe there is somewhat selection bias in my observations, but I would still count on every second car being electric.

Why is Norway the EV capital of the world? Where does this come from?
From my point of view, the root cause for this is in clever policies and smart moves of the politicians up here. The goal for Norway is to have a zero-emission car fleet by 2025! Let’s be clear on this, that is only four years away from now. From what I found out; the Norwegians opted for few very interesting policies incentivizing the purchasing of electric cars over petrol cars. As an example, they’ve opted for a progressive tax system punishing the purchasing of ICE vehicles. The principal here is the higher the emissions of your car, the higher the tax on your car.

In your view, do you think that policies are the major way to reduce the number of polluting cars on the streets?
Yes, I believe that clear policies will help and incentivize people to buying electric cars, but there are also other ways to do this. Taking Norway as an example again, infrastructure is key. Norway currently has 3,300 fast chargers and more than 16,000 “normal chargers” installed, and we are talking about a population of only 5.3 million Norwegians. The point I’m trying to make is that the infrastructure in Norway is already very far advanced which means that electric vehicle drivers do not have to worry about the accessibility of charging stations.

Now we’ve talked quite a lot about Norway. What makes Oslo as a city so significant in this area?
I am far away from being an expert in this field, but from a foreigner’s view, I feel that Oslo as a city has managed to build a bridge between inhabitants and governance. I personally feel like there is really good communication between each sector of income and everyone has a voice when it comes to important decisions. And Oslo inhabitants love to explore the new: with electric cars you also find battery-powered ferries, electric bus fleets… it is all here, and people use it. The electric ferries for example are in operation since this year and have set a perfect example on how to adapt different types of electric vehicles to our modern world.

Porsche Studio Oslo © Tass Brecht
"I have had the privilege of travelling to many different cities in many different countries and with no doubt I’d say that Oslo has one of the most thought through mobility setup."
Tass Brecht

Have you been on one of those ferries yet?
Sadly no. I think I might have to in the time that I am here, but so far, I haven’t had the chance. Currently we are approaching winter though, and Norway is known for a very cold winter which is why I’d probably sit inside on the ferry itself – that’s half the fun.

How would you compare Oslo to other cities you’ve been to regarding mobility?
I have had the privilege of travelling to many different cities in many different countries and with no doubt I’d say that Oslo has one of the most thought through mobility setup. My first impression of Oslo was the airport where I could have either taken the train arriving every 10 minutes, for 15 minutes, or the taxi for 1 hour. Guess what I have chosen to travel with? The ease of mobility solutions makes traveling from A to B more efficiently, getting around town here is simply easy. Another example: On my way to work, which takes around about 10 minutes to walk, I pass by at least 10 charging stations. On top, all infrastructure in Oslo is so advanced, that every necessary store is only in walking distance away from you. This reminds me of Paris, this 15-minute concept I have seen there this summer.

Norway is known to be quite the cold country; don’t vehicle drivers fear the electric range?
First of all, yes Norway gets really cold, especially now heading into winter. But range anxiety is not a topic up here, at least in the discussion I had with my friends here. Norway has a great infrastructure when it comes to charging which means that despite the snow and miserable weather, there are charging stations in reach everywhere. A colleague of mine here at the Nordic EV Summit team told me a story of him owning the Kewet Buddy Electric in 1995 where I immediately asked “surely it must’ve been a pain to charge cause of the reach,” to which he responded “it’s all about the planning!” and then he went on about how bad German charging abilities were in 2016, when he travelled the country.

Let’s leave Norway and ask you a final personal question: Would you yourself consider driving electric?
As much as I’d love to drive a Porsche Targa one day, I don’t see it being applicable to today’s day and age. It is also quite exciting that the shift from fossil-fueled cars to electric cars is happening now when I am young, as I do have a very different perspective on ICEs as older generations. On the other hand, the fact that this question is even still being asked is one of the problems, I guess. It should be the new normal that someone buys an electric car, and it shouldn’t be an “if” question anymore. Looking at Norway again shows that open minded inhabitants can accept and adopt innovations such as the electric vehicle completely, no doubt.

Thank you Tass for your time and the best of luck for a successful Nordic EV Summit!

The Nordic EV Summit takes place in Oslo on the 10th and 11th of November 2021 - you can find more information on the summit here.

Photos courtesy of Tass Brecht