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Sweden’s Plugin EV Share Over 47% In August, Full Electrics At Record High 24%

Sweden’s plugin electric vehicle market share hit 47.1% in August 2021, up over 1.6x from 29.0% in August 2020. Full electric vehicles took a record high 24.1% share of new sales, slightly ahead of plugin hybrids, due to recent incentive adjustments. The overall auto market, at 19808 units, was down by around one third from pre-COVID 2019 levels. The Kia e-Niro was once again Sweden’s best selling full electric.

 

August’s combined 47.1% plugin result comprised a record 24.1% contribution from full battery electrics (BEVs) followed closely by 22.9% for plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This is a rebalancing towards BEVs from the weighting in recent years, achieved through recent incentive policy changes. From now on we should see a more balanced weighting between the two categories of plugins. The cumulative 2021 year-to-date plugin share now stands at 40.4%, from 26.5% at this point in 2020.

Diesels were at a near record low of 13.1% share (from 18.0% YoY) and petrol at 30.0% (from 34.3%). Plugless hybrids have stagnated in 2021, averaging just 7.8% year-to-date, well down from their peak annual share of 14.7% in 2020:

Best Selling BEVs

The Kia Niro was again the best selling BEV in August, taking back the spot it held in January and February this year. The Volkswagen ID.4 also put in a typically strong performance, as did the MG ZS EV.

Other BEV models were roughly on par with their performance in recent months, although the Polestar 2, Volvo XC40 and Renault Zoe all had thinner volumes than normal. The compelling new Hyundai Ioniq 5 has now started customer deliveries but it still in very limited supply in Sweden (68 units in August), whereas Norway received almost 10x as many (624 units), even though their BEV market is normally only 2 or 2.5x the volume of Sweden’s (and closer in volume now that Sweden’s BEVs are picking up).

These erratic monthly model volumes demonstrate that production volume and available supply is limited for many BEV models in Europe, and OEMs are periodically shuffling around the limited units they have on hand, between different national markets.

Tesla also only shipped comparatively thin volumes to Sweden in August (Norway again got higher priority). The Tesla Model Y however did make its Sweden debut in August, with 152 units, just about making it on to the top 10 list:

In terms of the year-to-date 2021 performance (below list), the VW ID.4 still has a decent lead over the Kia Niro and the Tesla Model 3.

Now that the Tesla Model Y is coming over from Shanghai, it will be interesting to see what volumes Tesla decides to allocate to Sweden and the rest of Europe (prior to the local Berlin factory producing them). Certainly there’s no lack of European demand for the Model Y (along with many other BEVs) – instead, supply volume is the limiting factor.

Given currently limited production capacity, Tesla is focusing on supplying the higher margin Long Range and Performance Model Y variants first (which generally start from the mid-50 thousand Euros and up) and will only offer Europeans the Model Y Standard Range (currently only available to order in China) when more global production capacity comes on line.

Whilst we may see a short-term generous-volume push to fulfil long standing European reservations for these more expensive Model Y variants, the mid-50s price point (and currently tight supply volume) will mean that the Model Y won’t yet rival the volumes of the Tesla Model 3 in Europe.

The Model 3’s European volume will remain higher than the Y in the short term, due to the more affordable Standard Range Plus variant already being readily available (Tesla’s Norway and Germany websites say that new orders can be delivered in September already). The Model 3 SR+ is the most popular variant in Europe, being more affordable yet offering already plenty of range for the majority of European drivers.

The same will be the case for the Model Y, once production volume increases enough for Tesla to start offering the more affordable SR variant. Once neither model is no longer supply constrained, the Model Y will certainly take the volume lead over the Model 3 in Europe. The timing will largely depend on the pace of the Berlin ramp up.

Outlook

We’ve just noted above that some of the most compelling BEVs available are still supply constrained (compared to potential demand). But consumers seeing signs that these new and compelling BEVs are starting to appear will only encourage potential car buyers to join waiting lists and hold out for a BEV for their next vehicle purchase. They will avoid making yet another ICE purchase. In other words, the Osbourne effect may increasingly come in to play in the European auto market.

After years of PHEVs dominating Sweden’s plugin sales, recent policy changes (see March and July reports for details) have had the effect of lifting up the sale of BEVs relative to other powertrains. As we have seen for August, BEVs may have the slight edge over PHEVs going forwards. This will incentivize more investment in DC charging infrastructure, and have positive feedback effects for further BEV adoption.

September has historically been a banner month for European plugin share, stepping up significantly over previous months, and this year will likely be no exception. We will probably see the 50% threshold breached in Sweden for the first time (and certainly by November).

With December 2020 seeing plugin share at 49.4% already, December 2021 should see plugin share exceeding 60% in Sweden. 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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