Sweden Plugin Vehicle Share Grows To 33.5% In January

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Sweden saw plugin electric vehicle market share grow again in January 2021 to 33.5%, from the previous January record of 30.3% last year. This is already above the 32.2% average plugin result of full year 2020. The growth came despite policy upheavals and recent best selling full electrics taking a rest to restock their channels. The overall auto market was up 22.5% year-on-year from an usually weak January 2020.


January’s combined plugin result of 33.5% was mostly made up of plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at an unusually strong 28.2% and full battery electrics (BEVs) at just 5.4%. Last year’s split was a more moderate ~ 70:30.

However, as industry body BIL Sweden reminds us, several complex policy changes are in play in the first half of this year, which are likely to be creating an unrecognizable plugin market in the short term. Heavier CO2 taxes will also come in, especially for larger vehicles. Things will settle after July 1st, and we will have to wait till then to see the new picture. The overall plugin share should continue to rise.

January’s Best Selling BEVs

As a reminder, Sweden’s 2020 top 5 BEVs were (in order); Volkswagen ID.3, Tesla Model 3, Kia Niro, Renault ZOE, and Nissan LEAF. Several of these are absent from January’s top ten list:

Most notably AWOL in January are the VW ID.3 and Tesla Model 3, which are both probably restocking channels from a very hard December push all across Europe. We know that Tesla doesn’t arrange for high volume European deliveries in the first month of a quarter. VW likely pulled forward many components in the ID.3 supply chain to maximize vehicle deliveries in December, to get as close as possible to the required EU CO2 targets. Both will no doubt be back to strong volumes in the coming months.

Meanwhile the Kia Niro and Polestar 2 both edged ahead of other BEVs to take January’s top two spots, though neither came close to their recent peak volumes. Since PHEVs were a huge portion of the plugins in January, let’s also note that Kia and Volvo (parent of Polestar) dominated the top 5 PHEVs in January, with the Toyota RAV4 taking #3 PHEV spot.

Kia Niro. Image Courtesy: Kia

What’s the outlook for 2021? As I mentioned, it will depend on the reaction to policy changes that will only settle after early July. The policies are fully intended to further reduce CO2 emissions and speed along the transition, but the shape and pace of their impact remains to be seen.

2020 saw 32.2% cumulative plugin share in Sweden.  I’d hazard a guess that – even with the uncertainties in 2021 – this year’s cumulative market share will end up close to or above 40%. What do you think? Please lend us your thoughts in the comments section.


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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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