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Sweden Continues Electric Vehicle Progress In May With 39.1% Plugin Vehicle Share

Sweden saw plugin electric vehicle market share reach 39.1% in May 2021, up from 21.5% in May 2020. With policy changes still in flux, we can expect even stronger growth in the second half of the year. The best selling full electric in May was the Volkswagen ID.4. Overall auto sales were still recovering, down 24% from seasonal norms.

 

May’s cumulative plugin result of 39.1% comprised plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at 22.8% and full battery electrics (BEVs) at 16.2%. BEVs’ contribution is up over 3x from May 2020’s 5.2% share; strong growth partly due to ongoing policy changes (more on these below). The cumulative plugin share for 2021 now stands at 37.4% from 25.4% at this point in 2020.

Here’s a view of the recent evolution of powertrain shares (click to zoom):

Best Selling BEVs

Since starting delivery in decent volumes in April, the Volkswagen ID.4 has quickly climbed to the top of the year-to-date best selling BEV rankings. It looks set to totally dominate the charts for the rest of the year, although its siblings the Skoda Enyaq, and later the Audi Q4 e-tron, may pull some interest away. Here’s the cumulative 2021 year-to-date chart of Sweden’s top 10 BEV spots:

2021’s overall #2 BEV, the Tesla Model 3, didn’t have a significant shipping month in May (chart below), but will no doubt return in volume in June and should hold on to a top 3 spot for full year 2021. I’d guess the Skoda Enyaq (still ramping in volume) might yet have some chance to grab the #2 spot from Tesla by the end of the year; either way it will be a tight race.

Check out the VW group’s May result below — with the VW, Skoda, and Audi brands taking 4 out of the top 6 BEV spots. Even the group’s Porsche Taycan is in #16 spot in May, a strong result give the price point. The Audi Q4 e-tron should regularly join close to the monthly top 5 also, when it sees volume delivery in Q3 or early Q4.

More Policy Change Coming

We’ve covered Sweden’s substantial policy changes for the automotive market a couple of months back, so check that report if you want to grasp the essentials. Basically, using the emissions-related “bonus-malus” tax approach, PHEVs have lost around €1000 of incentive and BEVs have gained a further €1000, and all other vehicles are subject to more tax than previously.

There’s another significant change, this time a 25% improvement to company tax benefits for BEVs, due to come in to effect at the start of July, but it will take a while for the push-back and pull-forward repercussions around this change to settle down. BIL Sweden’s CEO, Mattias Bergman, sums up the situation:

“In addition to bonus-malus adjustments and the temporary reduction of the benefit value for green cars that was abolished at the turn of the year, the benefit tax will also be increased by approximately 25 percent from 1 July. The Riksdag decides on the increase in the benefit tax on 2 June. All these changes mean that we will not be able to see the real effects in the new registrations until the second half of the year at the earliest. ” Mattias Bergman (translated from original)

We may be able to see a kernel of stabilization in the market share of different powertrains emerging by September or perhaps October, but we will need several months to confirm that such early signs are really “the new normal”. I am expecting the plugin contributions to be distributed more evenly between BEV and PHEV than in recent years, with perhaps BEVs having the slight edge by the end of this year.

Volkswagen ID.4. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen.

However, with BEV sales volumes potentially growing sharply, there will also need to be effort to improve Sweden’s DC charging infrastructure, especially in outlying areas, which is holding back some consumers from choosing a BEV.

As for overall plugin share, it’s still set to reach around 50% for the 2021 as a whole, with the last months of the year potentially reaching around 60% or even 70% monthly share. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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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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