Sweden’s April Plugin Vehicle Share Above 43% — Volkswagen ID.4 Overall Best Selling Vehicle

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Sweden saw plugin electric vehicle market share reach 43.1% in April 2021, up almost 2× year on year, with full electric vehicles alone at a record 22.2% share. This puts full electrics ahead of plugin hybrids for the first time in years. Volkswagen’s new ID.4 was the overall best selling vehicle in Sweden. Auto market volume as a whole was down 31% from pre-COVID norms.

The 43.1% combined plugin result comprised 22.2% full battery electric vehicles (BEVs), just ahead of plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at 20.8%. This is the first time in more than 5 years that the BEV share has exceeded that of PHEVs in Sweden, and was a result of the substantial policy changes that came into effect at the start of April.

The year-to-date cumulative plugin share now stands at 37.1%, up from 26.1% at this point in 2020.

The overall auto market saw 21,873 registrations, down some 31% from pre-COVID norms (2017–2019 April average). Part of this was the hangover from a strong pull forward of auto sales in the previous month (34.5% above the normal March average), ahead of the tighter policies that began in April.

Diesels in particular saw a strong drop-off in April, to under 15% share. Here’s a graph of the recent evolution of powertrain market shares in Sweden:

Best Selling BEVs Year to Date

Volkswagen’s new MEB-based models had a strong month, with the Volkswagen ID.4 crossover taking the #1 spot in the entire auto market with 1,444 unit sales in April. The Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback was the next most popular BEV, with 469 unit sales, enough to take the overall market’s #10 spot.

Since some brands deliver to Europe in peaks and troughs, let’s take a step back and look at the year-to-date most popular BEV models in Sweden:

In its first month of decent delivery volume, the ID.4 has just overtaken the Tesla Model 3 to grab the top BEV spot for the year so far. Whether this position will hold throughout the year will depend upon the sustained level of demand for the new ID.4, beyond these first few months, which may simply be fulfilling a backlog of pre-orders.

When we combine all of the Volkswagen Group MEB-platform siblings — the ID.4, ID.3, and Skoda Enyaq — plus other siblings coming soon (e.g., the Audi Q4 e-tron), this platform looks certain to dominate Sweden’s BEV sales in 2021.

It’s good to see the growing strength-in-depth of BEV models on offer. With new and compelling models continuously arriving, choice is growing, pricing is becoming more competitive, and consumers will ultimately benefit.

Volkswagen ID.4. Image courtesy of Volkswagen.

There’s another significant policy change due to start in July, an adjustment of corporate tax benefits for vehicles. This should give a further boost to the market share of plugins relative to combustion vehicles.

Just as with the April 1st policy change, there will be some pull-forward and hold-back effects around this July 1st change. We won’t see the dust fully settle on the new auto landscape until at least August or September.

This being the case, it’s hard to know right now just how high Sweden’s plugin market share could climb this year. Certainly the April policy change has already caused a notable uptick in share over what we saw in Q1 2021. Recall that the December peak of 2020 saw almost 50% plugin share. It’s likely that 2021’s December peak could reach somewhere a bit above or below the 70% marker.

I’d expect the full-year result should climb from 2020’s 32.2% result to around 50% this year, and for BEVs to draw equal with PHEVs in contribution.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of  Sweden’s plugin market, and predictions for the coming months? 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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