Is Norway's Love For EVs Enough To Put A Dent In Fuel Demand?

I suspect that a large factor in the high demand for gasoline is that buyers of electric cars have not ditched their old cars but have kept them for use on very cold days when EV range is eaten up by heating needs.  Norway has a LOT of very cold days.  A really cold day could HALVE the range of an EV

Road fuel demand in Norway has remained relatively stable even with soaring electric vehicle (EV) adoption, raising questions about whether EVs really have a material impact on diesel and gasoline sales. Rystad Energy research and modeling has, however, uncovered the truth behind the persistent sales – electrifying heavy-duty vehicles, especially trucks, is essential to lowering overall fuel consumption.

EVs are often positioned as the key to decarbonizing transportation, but the latest data from the Norwegian government suggests otherwise. Electric cars have accounted for at least 80% of all passenger vehicle sales for the past three years. EVs – including plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) – accounted for about 90% of all new car sales in 2023. More than 50% of passenger cars on the road in Oslo are electric, a threshold that BEVs alone will pass 50% in the next two years.

Such an aggressive growth in EV sales should lead to a dramatic fall in fuel demand. But that is yet to materialize, and sales figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show diesel and gasoline demand has declined only modestly since 2017. In the first half of 2023, road fuel sales hovered around 62,000 barrels per day (bpd), a 10% fall from the 70,000 bpd sold between 2017 and 2019, well after the EV boom started. Current consumption is relatively stable between 60,000 and 70,000 bpd, and a precipitous drop is not forecast in the near term.

Our research – which goes beyond the numbers reported by SSB – tells a different story. Our model considers the official fuel sales, annual average mileage by vehicle type and car sales as reported by SSB. It converts this raw data into estimated diesel and gasoline demand, factoring in the efficiency of individual vehicles as of 2022. The upshot of this is a crystal-clear image that road fuel demand from passenger cars has declined rapidly since 2016, falling more than 20%, in line with the BEV market penetration.

Meanwhile, fuel demand from buses and trucks – which run predominantly on diesel – has grown, rising from about 30,000 bpd between 2010 to 2015 to 32,000 in 2022. A structural decline in fuel demand is not likely in the short term until the recently initiated electrification of these sectors takes hold. As a frontrunner in the transport electrification process, these findings pose significant questions for other countries trying to follow Norway’s lead.

Electrifying the road transportation sector is a pillar of many countries’ energy transition strategy, with policymakers around the world offering incentives to those who switch to EVs. However, the situation seen in Norway could play out on a global scale as adoption ramps up. If efforts to lower emissions and reduce the carbon intensity of road transportation are to succeed, the focus should not be solely on passenger cars, but must also address heavy-duty vehicles that run on traditional fossil fuels.


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