Fossil Fuel Vehicles Plummet 40% In Sweden As EVs Triple To Over 30% Market Share

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January saw fossil fuel passenger vehicle sales plummet in Sweden by almost 40% year on year, with diesels more than halved, as plug-in vehicle market share climbed to over 30%. Sweden’s auto industry organization expects 30% to be maintained through the full year of 2020.

Click on the graph to enlarge

The largest share of the EV mix went to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), with 23.1% of the overall market, whilst pure battery electrics (BEVs) picked up 7.1%. Diesels dropped precipitously from January 2019’s 8,113 sales to just 3,840 in January 2020, resulting in a 21.6% market share.

The jump in EV sales comes in the first month of a recalibrated bonus-malus incentive system for vehicle emissions (with tax increases for polluters), and as the new Europe-wide CO2 rules come into force. Vehicles with CO2 emissions from zero to 70 g/km can receive a sliding scale of up to ~5700€ in incentives in Sweden, and vehicles with emissions above 95 g/km pay additional yearly taxes. A diesel vehicle emitting 122 g/km (the country’s 2018 average) costs ~425€ per year in taxes. A sports car with 225 g/km (e.g., the Porsche 911) costs ~1250€ per year.

Kia Niro EV. Image courtesy Kia.

Top selling EV models in January included the Kia Niro EV, Renault Zoe, and Kia Soul EV (all BEVs) as well as the VW Passat GTE, Kia Optima PHEV, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (all PHEVs), according to industry body BIL Sweden. The Tesla Model 3, Sweden’s top selling BEV in 2019, has yet to see 2020 shipments arrive in the country.

VW Passat GTE. Image courtesy VW.

Sweden’s industry association expects the full year 2020 EV market share to be around 30%, up from the previous record result of 11% in 2019. In 2021, the share is predicted to rise to 40%:

“The background to our forecast of a 30% share of rechargeable cars this year and 40% next year is a sharp increase in the supply of rechargeable cars in different price ranges and in the different segments.” —BIL Sweden CEO, Mattias Bergman

It took Norway 4½ years to get from 11% EV market share to 40%. Now that ever greater varieties of ever more affordable EVs are coming available, Sweden will travel the same journey in just two years. It won’t be long before we start seeing peak months where EV sales overtake combustion vehicles.

Even the largest European markets are now starting to transition quickly. We’ve seen France hit 11% this January, Germany hit 6.5%, and the UK hit 5.9%. Adding Spain and Italy to the tally, Europe’s big 5 markets are already at 6% EV share. Midsized markets like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Portugal are higher still.

Overall, Europe as a whole looks set to easily breeze past 5% EV market share this year and perhaps end up closer to 10%. What do you think? Please jump into the comments and share your thoughts.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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