03/24/2009 05:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Could Norway Say 'Nej' to Gas and Diesel Driven Cars?

On the same day that the low-priced Nano from Tata Motors finally made its debut (to considerably less fanfare than the original announcement of the Nano) Norway's Socialist Left party launched its platform at a Bergen conference to with the inclusion of a measure to ban gas and diesel cars for sale in the country from 2015.

There's no little irony in the fact that while Tata chairman Rattan Tata hails the Nano as an affordable car for a vast new market of Indians, Norway's Socialist Left party leader Kristin Halvorsen says banning gas-driven cars is key to controlling carbon dioxide emissions.

For Norway to eschew gas and diesel cars when part of the country's great wealth comes from the sale of oil and gas to the rest of the world seems like quite a stretch. And the Socialist Left, though part of the coalition government, has not been entirely successful at convincing the rest of its peers to turn away from oil in other ways - for example by subsidizing a build-up of domestic wind power.

Still, it's a timely and thought-provoking idea.

Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen believes that in 6 years, car technology will be far enough along that Norwegians won't need to buy cars that emit any CO2. This suggestion to ban gas and diesel cars, Halvorsen says, would make Norway's stimulus package the greenest in the world.

Norway of course, doesn't have a big gas-driven car industry to lose. However, in Sweden, where the Center party hopes that by 2025, gas-driven cars will be a thing of the past, automaker Saab has been cut loose from the possibility of company-saving loans or handouts.

While Norway's plan made nearly no U.S. news outlets, another interesting tidbit did emerge around the introduction of the Tata Nano. After commenting on the launch of the $2,200 gas-driven Nano, chairman Ratan Tata told editors that the company's electric Indica will come out later this year, but available only in Norway. At least for now.

And in the meantime, in a strange irony, Norway's homegrown electric car manufacturer, TH!NK, is still in a struggle to survive, with part of its reorganization plan being to open a U.S. based TH!NK City manufacturing site.

All this strangeness is part of the huge change swirling in the global car industry. What's positive is that battery technology, so crucial for the electric car industry, is making quick leaps in recharge speeds. If nothing else, Norway's innovative idea of saying no to gas cars helps us all see that the internal combustion engine can be successfully retired.

More from TreeHugger on Norway and electric cars
::Cheapest New Cars in Norway Are Electric
::Norway Electric Car Sales Set Records: High Gas Prices Anyone?
::Norwegian Wind Power Could Become Europe's Battery
::Norway Proposes No New Suburban, Drive-To Shopping Malls
::Swedes Battle Norwegian to Become Electric Car Mecca
::Norway: Carbon Neutral by 2030
::Greenwash Watch: Norway Says Cars are not "Green" or "Clean"