Sweden Hits Record 50% Electric Vehicle Share In December!

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Sweden has just hit a massive 49.4% plugin electric vehicle share in December 2020, over 4× the share of December 2019 (11%). The Volkswagen ID.3 sold 2,564 units in December, and also took the year’s top spot for full electrics.

The combined 49.4% plugin share in December comprised 19.2% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 30.1% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This was a rise in the relative weighting of BEVs compared to recent months. The full year figures were 9.6% BEV and 22.6% PHEV, for a combined plugin result of 32.2% market share. That’s a big jump over the 11.4% plugin share of full year 2019.

Overall, auto sales totalled 291,554 in 2020, down some 18.1% from 2019’s total of 356,036. Plugin volume however grew strongly, from 2019’s 40,406 sales to 93,938 sales in 2020. That’s a jump of 2.3× in volume, despite the pandemic.

Let’s take a look at an overview of the monthly evolution of powertrain shares, with data from BIL Sweden. There may (or may not) be a data glitch in December’s diesel vs. plugless hybrid numbers (which reversed compared to their recent weightings), and I’ll update this if we learn more. The plugin shares we are interested in are nevertheless pretty accurate. You can click on the graph to zoom in:


2020’s best selling full electrics

Here’s the top 10 list of 2020’s most popular BEVs in Sweden:

It’s clear that the Volkswagen ID.3 has already proven very popular, gaining the top spot despite only starting deliveries in September. It saw a massive 2564 sales in December, and has a recent monthly average volume of 1002 units in Sweden, way ahead of any others, and is surely the favourite for 2021.

Volkswagen ID.3 Image: Volkswagen

The second spot for the full year was taken by last year’s favourite, the Tesla Model 3. The year’s average monthly volumes for the Tesla stand at 294 units, which have now been overtaken by the Polestar 2, at 325 average monthly units. However, since the Polestar only started proper delivers in August, it could only climb up to 8th spot in the full year result.

There’s decent strength-in-depth from other BEV models, including the Kia Niro, Renault ZOE, Nissan LEAF, Audi e-Tron, and Hyundai Kona. The Volvo XC40 full electric only started deliveries in November, so doesn’t figure in the full year list, but is already showing monthly volumes of 177 units. That would be have been enough to potentially challenge for 5th spot here, so the Volvo will likely climb strongly in 2021. We can also expect the Volkswagen ID.4 to join these ranks in 2021, as well as the Tesla Model Y, and potentially several other compelling BEVs.

What’s next?

Regarding the path forwards for plugin vehicles in 2021, industry group BIL Sweden expresses some reservations based on uncertainty regarding the continuing incentive landscape:

“The changes to instruments that are planned in 2021 for rechargeable cars, which are now out for consultation, risk breaking the positive development of the year. This uncertainty, together with the uncertain economic situation, means that we currently do not present a forecast for the share of rechargeable cars in 2021. To ensure the rapid transition to rechargeable vehicles, it is important that we have correctly designed, predictable and long-term instruments, not just when buying but also when using the car…” (BIL Sweden statement, translated)

However, it seems unlikely that plugin sales will reduce significantly in 2021, and unless there’s a big incentives change, I would expect to see monthly shares continuing to climb from a baseline close to the levels we have seen over Q4 of 2020. If you’re knowledgeable about the likely Swedish EV incentives landscape in 2021, please jump in to the comments and let us know.

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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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