To say my brain is full is an absolute understatement.
The agile, busy, engaged, dedicated, knowledgeable and slightly stressed out team at www.elbil.no have been kind enough to let me join them for a day in their offices in Oslo. Let me give you a bit of etymology and tell you the story behind the name of this FABULOUS organisation: Elbil means electric car in Norwegian. The official name is Elbilforening which means EV association. So, elbil.no are quite simply the beginning and the end of the electric car conversation here in Norway. That is my honest opinion on the matter. Here are a couple of photos of the drive into work, and arriving there on the magnificent Monday that would change my life FOREVER!
It is probably worth mentioning that elbil.no is the consumer advocacy arm of the Electric Vehicle conversation in Norway, and there are other organisations that advocate for business and corporate uptake as well.
So, to re-cap (as much for my benefit as yours) Elbil is the consumer facing organisation that manages and encourages the uptake and adoption of Electric Vehicles here in Norway. It has a team of 11 people, who are doing the work of easily two or three dozen. Everyone works feverishly from around 8:00am. They are in meetings and on phone calls all day. The team is vastly busy and stretched and have more than enough on their plates on a daily basis, yet, they were kind enough to let me visit.
As many people reading this will already know, Norway are the international heavyweight champions of Electric Vehicle adoption. Norway has witnessed exponential growth in their Electric Vehicle sector and, as of May 2016, they are boasting nearly 100,000 light passenger Electric Vehicles on their roads. They also have an Electric Bike fleet to be proud of, Electric Fishing boat prototype, and even a FULL Electric (not Hybrid, this is totally Battery Electric Vehicle or BEV) passenger and vehicle ferry.
The organisation is managed in tandem by an amazing and mutually respectful team with varied and extensive knowledge and skill-sets. The spectacularly charismatic and intelligent Christina Bu leads the charge and rallies the troops. Christina and I engaged on social media some months ago, and I knew before meeting her that I would be in awe of her. She manages her role with grace and precision, and all of her staff were obviously filled with admiration, trust and respect for her.
Norway is basically the Electric Vehicle Geek’s Mecca.
Three of the staff have been kind enough to grant me interviews. The sentiment in these interviews is clear: New Zealand must mandate encouraging good energy behaviour and discourage damaging behaviour. They were never unclear on this fact.
Norwegian’s are pretty good like that from what I have observed, not being unclear about things. I was told very early on in my visit that my EXTREMELY extroverted personality was a bit too much for them. No secret that I am very warm, loud, tactile, and hug like a machine. One person was kind enough to show me this picture in order to illustrate the Norwegian mentality on personal space:
By the end of the day, I hope I had managed to win some, or most of the staff over with my professional expertise and passion for their work. There was a definite feel of mutual respect and camaraderie and I am keen to get back to see them all in the foreseeable future. We will all be in touch regularly before I am able to rejoin them one day soon.
My undeniably uplifting, and epically educational trip to Norway came only hours before the announcement of the Electric Vehicle stimulus package on the 5th of May, 2016.
While I actively support, admire, and absolutely adore the Norwegian team and their collaborative and inclusive approach, I am not certain that the high level of Government stimulus and intervention would be well received in our idyllic island nation of New Zealand.
I am genuinely grateful that something is finally being done to encourage uptake. I believe that, if we, as owners and a community, blow the growth out of the water and gain huge national and international momentum for EV technology, the government and private sector hands will see the benefit to get more actively involved in adoption. I have great faith in the team at EECA to help orchestrate and champion positive change and good communication strategy and look forward to supporting them in every way that we can.
Over the months and years to come, I will be working closely with local, national and international stakeholders to ensure that New Zealand gets noticed as the truly innovative and collaborative society we are. People are starting to stand up and take notice of our sleepy little island nation, and I know, after spending time with our champions and colleagues around the country and around the world, that a sleeping lion is waking up, and we will be a formidable force for good on the world stage.
If you have already joined this journey, THANK YOU! And if you haven’t yet actively expressed your support for the exciting EV and Green Tech movement, please get in touch, we would to have you Leading The Charge alongside us for a Better Future for all of us.