Three Old Gas Pumps Near Waldo, Ohio, by Flickr user The Upstairs Room
Well, the far right should have a field day with this one.
Norway's Socialist Left Party is proposing to ban the sale of cars that run (only) on gasoline by 2015. Its legislation wouldn't ban all cars that use gasoline, but it would require that all new cars run partly or fully on alternative fuels, including electricity, ethanol, bio-diesel, and hydrogen.
Any new hybrid would be permitted, including such well-known models as the 2010 Toyota Prius. Flex-fuel models, including some Volvo and Saab entries made solely for Scandinavian markets, would also be fine--as would all-electric vehicles. In North America, GM has promised that half its vehicles will be flex-fuel-capable by 2012; all of those would make the cut.
The proposal isn't new; it was first suggested in May 2007. But it got a flurry of attention on Saturday, when Norway's finance minister Kristin Halvorsen--a member of the Socialist Left Party--suggested that the plan was "much more realistic than people think" when they first hear about it.
"We are often a party that puts forward new proposals first," she told Reuters, in a story that spread quickly around the world. Halvorsen stressed her plan does not go after existing cars, applying only to new cars from 2015. (The Norwegian public may not have understood this; reaction was apparently loud and angry.)
Reality check: The proposal isn't likely to go far. A three-way coalition holds power in Norway, and various cabinet members are opposed--although green advocacy organizations favor it.
To the best of our knowledge, no nation on earth has legislated against a specific form of motive power for automobiles.
Reuters notes that Halvorsen spoke with journalists during a green car event at which she raced a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car around a track against several other politicians. "She finished among the slower times," noted the news service.
For the record, Norway's socialist finance minister is no relation to our own Bengt Halvorson. Well ... they're probably related somehow, but way back. Way, way back. Long enough, anyway, for the spelling to be changed at Ellis Island or some other port of entry (cf. "Voelcker"). We just wanted to clear that up.
Map of Norway by Flickr user helga_ni