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Sweden Holds Above 50% Plugin EV Share In October, Despite Slow-Tesla Month

October saw Sweden’s plugin electric vehicle market remain above 50% for the second month in a row, gaining 50.9% share, up from 36.2% a year ago. BEVs alone took 22.9% of the market, up 2.8× year-on-year. The overall auto market volume was down 28.5% from last year at 19,957 units. The VW ID.4 was once again the country’s best selling full electric in October.

October’s combined plugin share of 50.9% comprised 22.9% for full battery electrics (BEVs), with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) taking 28.0% share. This was a shift back towards PHEVs from last month, mainly due to Tesla’s absence in the first month of the new quarter. The 2021 cumulative plugin share is now at 42.5% (16.6% BEVs), from 28.6% at this point last year.

PHEVs sales increased over September, even with overall auto volume dropping, and helped pick up the slack from the (1943 unit) relative shortfall in Tesla deliveries in October. With 50.9% of the market, plugins still remained ahead of all plugless powertrains combined, for the second month in a row. This will improve further in November and December, and with the possible exception of a slow month or two in early 2022, plugins will now remain above 50% (and climbing) into the future.

Sweden’s Favourite BEVs

With Tesla delivering just 36 vehicles in October (from 1,979 in September), last month saw the Volkswagen ID.4 reclaim the top selling BEV title, with 640 units registered. Its group sibling, the Skoda Enyaq, came in second with 380 units.

One notable entry to October’s ranks was the Mercedes EQS, registering a decent 54 units in its first volume month. Though far too expensive to be a high volume vehicle, it’s good to see Mercedes finally offering a BEV version of its flagship S-Class. The vehicle’s engineering and relative efficiency demonstrate that Mercedes is taking BEV design seriously.

As we saw in Norway also, Polestar (and Volvo) now appear to be back to strong BEV volumes after a recent low ebb, with the Polestar 2 doubling its sales over September and only just missing October’s second place ranking.

Since we know that some brands have uneven monthly delivery schedules (most obviously, Tesla), let’s take a step back and look at the trailing quarter of BEV sales:

Here we can see that the Kia Niro and the MG ZS are doing better in the longer view, despite both having had a slower month in October. The Tesla Model Y takes 4th spot, from essentially just one month of volume sales (September)! This bodes well for the Tesla crossover, and we should see it climb to the top spot of the trailing quarter ranks by the end of December.

The VW Group MEB siblings (ID.4, Enyaq, Q4) will still cumulatively outsell the Model Y in Sweden in the near term, at least until Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory gets ramping in 2022. There’s no lack of demand for any of these great BEVs; VW Group needs to get its MEB volumes ramping ASAP if it wants to stay near the front.

Some of our community have been asking about which combustion models are still propping up the old technology in the leading EV transition countries. Unambiguous data is not easy to find for leader Norway, but is available for neighbouring Sweden, which has a not too dissimilar market (in the graphic, petrol is designated by P, and diesel by D):

Beyond the noticeable preponderance of local brand, Volvo, and the many crossovers from VW, there’s nothing too surprising here. Europe’s long time best selling mass market cars like the VW Golf, the Ford Focus, the Kia Picanto, Renault Clio, and Dacia Duster are all well represented, and it’s notable that not too many BEV alternatives yet exist at their price points. Beyond the above short list, there is a long tail of similar basic combustion vehicles from the recognizable legacy brands. Have a look at Bil Sweden’s full listing for more information.

The list suggests that the more expensive ICE vehicles, the Volvos, the mid-to-large VW SUVs (ones for which many compelling BEV alternatives already exist) could see emissions restrictions further tightening if they linger for too long. Let’s be frank, all of these should really be at least PHEV by now.

The basic entry vehicles cannot reasonably be legislated against yet, especially those starting around €10,000 (or less), because no all-round-capable-and-affordable BEV alternatives yet exist in Europe (though the Dacia Spring is close to compelling at its price point, after subsidies).

The current lack of compelling affordable BEV offerings in Europe is precisely why we need vehicles like the BYD Dolphin and similar to start selling in the region.

BYD Dolphin. Image courtesy of BYD


With the 50% mark for plugin share now solidly behind us in Sweden, what have we got to look forward to in the next two months? Tesla is now able to get vehicles from Shanghai into the hands of European customers in less than two months, so we can expect the second half of November to once again see more Model Y and Model 3 sales in Sweden, boosting the month’s BEV share. I expect November to see overall plugin share of around 55%.

December, with all brands keen to hit annual targets (both internal and externally required), and consumers increasingly turning their back on non-plugins, should see over 60% plugin share, perhaps in the high 60s.

How do you see Sweden’s EV transition going forwards? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


NOTE: Do you have solid information about the waiting list durations for BEVs in your region? Please let us know below.


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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, or contact him via LinkedIn.


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