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Sweden’s Plugin EV Share Breaks New Records

Sweden saw a record high 60.7% plugin electric vehicle share in December, up from 49.4% share year-on-year. Full battery electric vehicles took the largest share, with 36.4%, greater than the combined share of old-school petrol and diesel vehicles (32.3%). The overall auto market saw 27,582 sales, the lowest December result of recent years.

December’s combined plugin result of 60.7% comprised a record 36.4% for full battery electrics (BEVs), with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) taking 24.3%. This continues a shift in weighting towards BEVs over recent months.

The full year 2021 result for combined plugins stood at 45% (with BEVs alone at 19.1%), up from 32% (with BEVs at 9.5%) in full year 2020.

Looking at Q4 2021 — a more current sample of the state of play — BEVs’ share climbed dramatically to 29.3% from 13.1% in Q4 2020. PHEVs meanwhile fell slightly year-on-year, from 29.0% to 26.6%.

Highlighting the surge in BEVs, their December 2021 volume increased 6.5x from that seen 24 months ago, in December 2019. The equivalent growth in PHEV volumes is a more modest 2x.

All plugless powertrains saw their lowest share of recent times (see graphic below). Petrol’s sales volume in December (5,763 units) was under 25% of that seen in the same month in 2019 (24,295), whilst the same time frame saw diesel’s volume drop to under 20%.

December was the fourth consecutive month in Sweden when plugins took over half the auto market, and their dominance over plugless vehicles should remain in place from now on:

Some readers have requested powertrain sales volume graphics, so here’s one of those. These are more irregular because auto sales are seasonally variable (in almost all markets):

Sweden’s Most Popular BEVs

December saw the usual end-of-quater push from Tesla, to take the top spot for the Model Y, and the #4 spot for the Model 3. The Renault Zoe (#3) and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (#7) also put in stronger than normal performances in December:

Taking a step back to look at the Q4 view (which smooths the erratic monthly logistical arrangements of some brands), we can see that Volkswagen’s ID.4 is well out in front:

The Tesla Model Y is of course going to be given a supply boost thanks to local European production at some point in 2022, so has a decent chance of taking the lead over the ID.4. Much will depend on various supply chain constraints — many of the BEVs in the top 20 (and some outside the top 20) are under-supplied relative to consumer demand, and have long waiting lists.

In terms of manufacturing groups, Volkswagen Group dominates the overall Q4 ranking at almost 27% of sales, with Hyundai Motor Group taking almost 14% and Tesla just behind at around 13.75%. Geely (Volvo, Polestar) are some way off in 4th, with around 7%.

Outlook

As I mentioned above, plugins have had the majority of the Swedish market for each of the past 4 months, and — bar a possible anomalous result in early 2022 — will remain above 50% and only get stronger from here on out.

It’s encouraging to see BEVs finally take a strong lead over PHEVs in Sweden, as the latter have dominated plugins for several years. Greater variety of BEV models, in greater volumes, at increasingly competitive prices, and all served by a steadily improving DC charging network, have all contributed to this turn around. These forcing functions will only continue.

What can we expect for 2022? Industry association BIL Sweden is predicting 34% BEVs and 26% PHEVs over the coming year. That sounds in the right ballpark to me, but I would weight it slightly more towards BEVs, as I think PHEVs have already plateaued and are slowly declining, and will average just a bit above 20% over the coming year.

The final months of 2022 should see BEVs peaking above 50% and a combined plugin score close to 80%. This would put the country roughly 2 years behind neighbouring Norway on the transition pathway — not a bad pace!

What are your thoughts on Sweden’s transition to electric transport? Please let us know 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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