Sweden Plugin Vehicle Market Share Hits 29.5% In July, Up 3x Year On Year

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July 2020 saw 29.5% plugin vehicle market share in Sweden, up from 10% in July 2019. The overall auto market recovered to close to normal levels, just 4% down compared to a year ago. The best selling plugin vehicles included the Volvo XC60 PHEV and the Kia Ceed PHEV.

Both full battery electrics (BEVs) and plugin hybrids (PHEVs) grew significantly compared to July 2019. Though, 2020’s new bonus malus tax rules are boosting PHEVs more than pure electrics. In 2019, BEVs took around 36% of Sweden’s EV market. So far this year, they are closer to 25%, so PHEVs are highly dominant.

For context, in most other European markets (though, not in neighboring Finland), the BEV/PHEV split is more even or BEVs are favoured. Jose Pontes’ recent roundup of the H1 2020 European EV market reminds us that ~55% of EV sales in the region are BEVs. The Renault Zoe and Tesla Model 3 — both pure electrics — are by far the most popular plugins sold in Europe.

PHEVs do have a positive impact on converting average driving tasks from combustion over to electric — if they are plugged in. Otherwise, they are just a heavy (and complex) hybrid and have little overall benefit to carbon emissions relative to pure combustion vehicles. Does the Swedish tax/incentive system have any way of ensuring that PHEVs are regularly plugged in? I’m not sure about this, so please weigh in below if you are based in Sweden and are knowledgeable about the topic. For more discussion on the merits and demerits of PHEVs in Europe, see Jacek Fior’s recent “defense of PHEVs” and Daryl Elliott’s appeal to end the PHEV era).

Volvo XC60 PHEV. Image courtesy Volvo.

The best selling EV in the month was the Volvo XC60 PHEV, continuing its 2020 dominance, with the Kia Ceed PHEV taking the runner up spot. Both Volvo and Kia are very dominant in the top 10 list in Sweden, with Volkswagen the only other manufacturer featuring there.

Note that the Kia Niro BEV is the only pure electric in the top 10 list. It’s not a big surprise that homegrown Volvo is popular in Sweden. Perhaps the Polestar 2 will also prove popular when it starts arriving in decent volume in the next couple of months, boosting Sweden’s BEV numbers.

Meanwhile, Kia is now making extremely reliable and high-value vehicles, with an outstanding 7 year warranty (rather than the typical 4 year OEM warranty), so its success in the top 10 makes perfect sense.

Bjørn Nyland recently found the Kia Ceed PHEV to have good efficiency in all-electric mode, and a real-world electric range of over 50 km when steadily cruising at 90 km/h (in good conditions). It’s also a touring/wagon form factor, which is a popular design in Europe.

Kia Ceed PHEV. Image courtesy Kia.

Auto industry association BIL Sweden is still forecasting an EV market share of over 30% for the full year. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.


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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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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