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Sweet September In Sweden — Pure Fossils Fall Under 50% As EV Share Hits New Record

Sweden saw pure fossil fuel powered vehicle market share fall to an all time low of 47.3% in September. Plugin electric vehicles broke new ground at 34.4%, and plugless hybrid vehicles took the remaining 18.4%. We can expect pure fossils to continue on a steady decline from here on out.

Sweden saw pure fossil fuel powered vehicle market share fall to an all time low of 47.3% in September. Plugin electric vehicles broke new ground at 34.4%, and plugless hybrid vehicles took the remaining 18.4%. We can expect pure fossils to continue on a steady decline from here on out.

This is the first time Sweden has seen plugin electrics to take over a third of market share. As usual in Sweden, plugin hybrids (PHEVs) dominated the EV mix at 21.6%, and full battery electrics (BEVs) took 12.7%. The year to date balance is now 19.8% and 8% respectively, with combined share of 27.9%.  This is a huge step up from the 11% result of full year 2019. Industry association BIL Sweden is still expecting the 2020 full year result to reach 30%.

Best selling plugins were again dominated by Volvo and Kia, though with the arrival of the new Volkswagen ID.3 adding to sales of the popular Passat PHEV, VW is now solidly on the score sheet:

It’s good to see pure fossils are now under 50% of sales in Sweden. Obviously, thus far, this is only possible with an assist from plugless hybrids, which still necessarily create pollution and climate emissions.

Mild hybrids are a very modest and “quick-fix” patch to prolong the life of combustion technology, with some regen braking recovering otherwise wasted energy to help with acceleration, improve engine start-stop, and enable electrification of some auxiliary equipment.

Traditional hybrids implement this approach a step further, via a (small) traction battery, allowing a very small distance (typically only a kilometer or two) of low power or low speed electric driving.

Both forms of plugless hybrids ultimately have to take all their energy from fossil fuels, but use electrification to simply gain some added efficiency. Whilst not as dumb as “pure combustion engines,” these plugless hybrid powertrains also need to be consigned to the scrap bin of history as soon as possible if we want zero emissions transport.

Nevertheless, with hybrids and plugins combining in September to a new all time high, I think that pure combustion powertrains’ first drop below 50% share is a milestone worth noting.

Polestar 2. Image Courtesy: Polestar

The Swedish government’s Autumn budget will introduce tougher penalties for vehicle CO2 emissions which will give a further boost to sales of plugins. PHEVs however will see their purchase incentives reduced by an average of around 10,000 SEK (around 960€). These influences will obviously lead to BEVs increasing their market share.

Note that the top 3 best selling BEV models in September were exactly the same ones as those taking the podium in neighbouring Norway, albeit in a shuffled order.

Have you taken delivery of a plugin electric vehicle in Sweden? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section.


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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. 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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