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Norway’s Plugin EVs Take 90% Share In December — Even Facing One-Off Headwinds

Norway, the world’s leading region in the transition to electric transport, saw plugin electric vehicle market share hit 90% in December, with the full year 2021 plugin share of 86.2%. Full battery electrics had a near-record sales month, but all vehicles with a combustion engine — temporarily — saw roughly double their normalized sales volume in December, a pull forward ahead of higher emissions-related taxes starting January 2022. This boosted overall auto sales to 20,567 units,  54% above the pre-pandemic seasonal average.

December’s combined plugin result of 90.0% comprised 67.1% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 22.9% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This is a significant swing back towards PHEVs from recent months, though a temporary one (see below).

The full year 2021 market share of BEVs stood at 64.5% (up from 54.3% in 2020). For PHEVs, it was 21.6% (from 20.4% in 2020). Plugins combined to 86.2% share in 2021, from 74.7% in 2020, and 54% in 2019.

Regarding December’s result, the monthly sales volume of BEVs roughly matched their record peak in September 2021, but PHEVs had by far their biggest sales month ever, at over 4,700 units, around double their recent monthly volumes.

This PHEV push happened because new CO2 related emissions taxes come in to effect as of January 1st 2022 in Norway, making many PHEVs (and other CO2 emitting cars) at least 5% to 10% more expensive for new owners to register and tax. So dealers rushed to get these CO2 emitting vehicles sold off in December ahead of the January 1st deadline.

Brands with model line-ups strongly weighted towards PHEVs (and combustion-only vehicles) namely, Toyota, Volvo and BMW, each saw higher than usual sales of non-BEVs in December, in large part due to this fire-sale ahead of the tighter emissions regulations.

Obviously January and February will see the flip side; a drop off in sales of these non-BEV vehicles, giving BEVs an even stronger share of the market.

Here’s the monthly market share chart, where the December boost in share for all combustion powertrains is clearly visible:

Below is the powertrain sales volume chart for those readers who have been requesting it. Note again the anomalous upswing in all combustion powertrains in December 2021, especially PHEVs, due to the incoming tighter regulations mentioned above:

Norway’s Most Popular BEVs

December saw Tesla make its usual end-of-quarter push, with the Model Y gaining the #1 spot, a step above its older sibling, the Model 3:

Note the good performance put in by the new BMW iX, especially given the high price point, gaining the #4 spot in December. Likewise, given the high price point, it’s impressive to see the Porsche Taycan in #8 spot.

A more balanced view of the currently popular models is given in the trailing-3-month sales chart, below, with Tesla’s logistical peaks-and-troughs smoothed out:

Here we can see that VW group’s efforts to move into BEVs are working out well in Norway, with 3 models in the top 10, and the group taking 29.3% of the total BEV market in Q4. Tesla meanwhile continues to do well, with the top 2 spots and 18.4% in Q4. Hyundai Group are in 3rd with 11.4%


Last month, I estimated that December might see 94% to 96% plugin share, but I hadn’t done my homework regarding the upcoming emissions tax increase from January 1st. These kinds of pending tax changes usually create pull-forward or hold-back effects, and December’s results are a good example of this.

December was a “last chance saloon” for high emissions combustion-only powertrains, which saw their monthly sales roughly double from recent months, temporarily denting the market share of plugins. Still, let’s face it, 90% plugin share is not too bad, and something other regions can only dream of (at least for now).

January and February are on the other side of the new emissions regulations, and thus will see further growth in BEV share. Apart from December’s anomalous picture, BEVs have remained well above 70% share for the past 5 months, and will return to this level — and higher — in the coming months. I expect March 2022 will see plugins take around 95% share in Norway, with 80% to 85% being BEVs.

Do you have local knowledge of Norway’s changing auto landscape? If so, please jump in to the comments and add some colour (or corrections) to my utlending perspective. What are your thoughts on what we can expect for Norway in 2022? Please let us know in the comment below.

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