Sweden’s Plugin EV Share Hits 56% In March, Will Accelerate

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Sweden’s auto market saw plugin electric vehicles take 55.6% of the total share in March 2022, up substantially from 37% EV share year-on-year. Full electrics alone took close to a third of the market, at 31.8%. Overall auto volumes were 28,706 units, down 16.6% from pre-pandemic seasonal norms.

March’s combined plugin result of 55.6% comprised 31.8% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 23.7% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). March’s combined plugin share was second only to last December’s peak (60.7%) and bodes well for 2022. Plugin share over the trailing quarter stands at 53.6%, up from 35.6% Yoy. Of that, 28.3% is BEV, up from a very modest 5.7% Yoy, (right before incentive structures were radically changed from April 2021).

Combined combustion-only share (petrol and diesel) were at a near-record low of 34.2% (from December’s record 32.2%).


Sweden’s Favourite BEVs

March saw no great surprises, with Tesla making its usual end-of-quarter delivery peak, with the Model Y now firmly leading over the Model 3. Temporarily displaced from their usual lead, the Volkswagen ID.4 and Kia Niro took 3rd and 4th spots in March.

Home-brand vehicles, the Volvo XC40, and Polestar 2, continued to increase in volume in March, taking 5th and 6th spots and helping to increase overall EV share.

Just outside the top 20, three relative newcomers are worth noting. In 21st spot, with 94 units, the Volvo XC40’s lowered, coupe/sedan sibling the Volvo C40 (platform and power-train almost identical) dropped a couple of spots from last month, but actually increased in monthly volume by 36%, and will soon be a regular face in the top 20. In 22nd spot, the great value MG5 wagon delivered its first Swedish vehicles (92 units). The VW Group’s latest MEB-platform market entrant, the Cupra Born also started to deliver in meaningful volumes (72 units, in 26th spot).

For the trailing quarter, the long term favourties, Kia Niro, and ID.4, are still leading, though now the Tesla Model Y has replaced the Tesla Model 3 in 3rd spot. Local heros the Volvo XC40 and Polestar 2 fill out the top 5. There’s no significant surprises in the rest of the table, most of the faces are the same ones we’ve seen over recent months.

EV Share Outlook

After a delay over recent months, the Swedish government has now refilled the budget pot for settling plugin incentives, giving buyers confidence that their outlay will be promptly reimbursed, rather than waiting indefinitely.

Industry association Mobility Sweden (formerly BIL Sweden), reports that the existing European auto supply chain issues (notably around chips) have been made worse by the Ukraine crisis, via component supply chain disruption, raw material supply disruption, and energy price shocks. This will squeeze auto market available volume in 2022. General economic inflation, especially around energy, transport, and food prices, and subsequent consumer budget woes, may also squeeze market sentiment and auto demand.

Plugins have the advantage of allowing owners to avoid dramatic road-fuel price increases, which will boost their demand relative to combustion vehicles. However, plugins’ supply chains also face disruption, and given their premium sticker price, overall economic woes for consumers will affect their demand, in absolute terms. They should nevertheless take share from new combustion vehicle sales, even if absolute sales volume is not spectacular compared to last year.

Since many of Sweden’s top selling BEVs are currently manufactured in Asia (Tesla, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, and Polestar) their supply chains for components, materials, and energy, may face somewhat less disruption (though are not immune to it).

Unfortunately for Europeans, any sustained energy price shock (and raw material disruption, and overall inflation shock) in Europe will not help the case for international OEMs to localize their manufacturing in Europe. Especially not in the auto sector and other sectors of heavy industrial manufacturing which require large amounts of energy and raw materials, both of which are now much more costly in the region.

Given current uncertainties, it’s difficult to forecast the automarket over coming months. In general, as noted above, plugins will be more heavily favoured by new vehicle consumers, over combustion vehicles, which should accelerate their continued growth in share this year, even if their absolute growth in volume is more muted, or even flat.

What are your thoughts on Sweden’s auto market prospects? Please join in the conversation in the comments.


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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. 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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