Today’s A-ha Moment Comes From A-Ha, The Norwegian Pop Band

Every once in a while, the endless scrolling on Twitter can reveal something actually interesting. That’s exactly what happened the other day, when I stumbled upon a really nice story. Mind you, this also led to a little bit of an A-ha moment, but more on that later.

Electric Cars In Norway

I’m going to start with a little known fact, namely that last year, Norway registered more electric vehicles than traditional ones. In other words, people bought more electric cars than gasoline-based vehicles. The exact numbers and brands can be seen here.

One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that Norway has quite a few incentives when it comes to electric vehicles. Some of them are: no annual road tax (since 1996), and no charges on toll roads or ferries (1997- 2017), which was then changed to a maximum of 50% off of normal taxes.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

Turns out that the Norwegian band A-ha (“Take on me”, rings a bell?) played a pivotal role in this. Here’s how.

In 1989, the members of the band were in Switzerland, and, together with one of their friends, they saw a modified Fiat Panda, which was able to roll on batteries. Total range, 45 kilometers. It was clearly more of an MVP, or just something unusual, back then. It’s 1989, remember. So, they thought it would be a good idea to buy that car and bring it to Norway.

From that moment on, they had to face a number of challenges: there were no rules and laws for registering an electric car back then, and there were also no rules about toll roads or road taxes. So, they started a slow process of trying to get the attention of the regulators. And one of the funniest way in which they did this was how they treated the road taxes.

They would take out the car for a small ride (just 45km range, ok?) but when they passed a toll road, they didn’t pay the fee. The back thinking was that there might be some difference in price for a polluting car and a zero-emissions car. Of course, not paying the fee resulted in a fine. Which, again, they did not pay. Now, if you don’t pay the fine in Norway, your car is confiscated, then auctioned. Again, they went along with this process, leaving their car seized and auctioned, only at the auction they were the only ones showing up. So they would pay the first price and get their car back. After that, the process was restarted, over and over and over again. The fine was 300 krones, but they could get their car back for as little as 200 krones. So it was really just a loophole they were trying to get around with. You can read more about this (and a few other details about their journey, from an interview with their environmentalist friend, at this link).

After they did this a few years (!), the government finally got the message and agreed to make an exception. After all, it’s just one electric car, right, how many of them could ever be?

Well, 30 years later, it turns out that the majority of the cars are electric, Norway has in place a program to go completely green by 2025 and there are tons of other incentives for electric car owners.

It Only Takes A Handful Of “Crazy” People

Beyond the nice story there’s an A-ha moment, like I told you.

For years, those friends were the “crazy” ones, the misfits, the ones dreaming an “impossible dream”. But they stayed on their path. Even more – and that’s the part that I like the most, to be honest – they even had fun while doing it. I can imagine it wasn’t easy to go back and forth with all that “toll road – fine – confiscation – auction” process, but they stayed with it. And I’m sure they had quite a few laughs, every once in a while.

30 years later, the seed they planted grew into something amazing. Of course, it takes much more than that, and I’m aware of that. It took some favorable circumstances, a bit of luck and probably some support from other people. But still. It’s impressive.

So, what’s the “crazy” seed that you’re planting right now? What’s the “impossible dream” that you’re dreaming?

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