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Norway’s Plugin EVs Still Falling, For Reasons

Norway, the country furthest along in the electric vehicle transition, saw a second consecutive month of falling plugin electric vehicle share, at 86.1% from 87.7% a year ago. Like last month, full electrics did see annual growth in share, but this was outweighed by the greater falling share of plugin hybrids. Overall auto volumes also declined YoY by some 25% to 12,363 units. The Volkswagen ID.4 was again Norway’s overall best seller.

August’s combined plugin result of 86.1% comprised 74.8% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 11.3% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). BEVs have grown share modestly YoY, from 71.9%, but PHEVs have lost share, from 15.8%.

In volume terms, all powertrains fell YoY, except for plugless hybrids (HEVs), which grew volume by 28% to 955 units (their best result in 14 months). This gave HEVs a share of 7.7%, up from 4.5% a year ago.

Although share was given up by plugins as a result of HEVs’ relative strength, combustion-only powertrains (combined) took a bigger relative hit, falling YoY from 7.7% share to 6.1%.

Norway’s Bestsellers

The Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y have been playing a game of tag over recent months, and the ID.4 took the top spot in August, with 1,451 units registered. Expect to see Tesla make their usual end-of-quarter volume push next month to retake the top spot.

The runners up in August — both a long way behind the ID.4 — were the Skoda Enyaq and Tesla Model 3.

Note that the VW ID.5, essentially a coupe-back variant of the ID.4, took #5 position, with its highest volume yet of 399 units (from July’s 227 units, and 7th rank). Expect the ID.5 to ramp up even more in the coming months, and overtake the BMW iX (itself typically delivering an impressive 400 to 500 monthly units), to take 4th position.

Others to watch out for are the Renault Megane and its group cousin the Nissan Ariya. The Megane grew volume over the previous month by almost 60%, to 72 units, though is still well outside the top 20. The Ariya saw its first noticeable volume month in August, with 41 units, and will continue to climb from here. Both will be competing in already somewhat crowded segments, so it will be interesting to see how high they can go.

In other news … let’s give a shoutout to the Ford e-Transit van, which saw its first significant monthly volume, 126 units, in Norway in August. The regular Transit has long been Europe’s highest selling light commercial vehicle (around 14% of the EU market in 2020), so this is an important debut.

The e-Transit is in a larger size class than the Toyota Proace BEV (averaging 140 monthly units recently), with close to twice the payload (1758 kg vs. 1000 kg). It however has a similar starting price (just under 500,000 NOK), similar range (around 320 km WLTP), and faster DC charging. If Ford have lined up enough production capacity, expect the e-Transit to soon become the new BEV light commercial leader in Norway.

Let’s now take a step back and look at the trailing 3 months results in Norway:

The VW ID.4 leads, from the Tesla Model Y, and Skoda Enyaq — all are a long way ahead of any others. The VW and Tesla have swapped positions compared to 3 months ago (the March-to-May quarter).

A few BEV models made decent progress. The Enyaq itself was in 11th previously (with 916 units), so has seen dramatic gains to reach 3rd. The VW ID.5 only debuted in May, so has climbed considerably since then, to reach 8th. Here are the key climbers compared to the March-to-May period:

Just outside the top 20, the Mercedes EQB, having debuted in January, climbed from 37th in the March-to-May period, to 22nd in June-to-August.

On the other side of things, some models dropped in rank over the 3 months:

Outside the top 20, the Kia Soul fell from 25th to 47th. Whilst its sibling, the Kia Niro, is also lagging, the Niro at least has the excuse of being in the middle of rolling out its refreshed version right now, and has every prospect of regaining past heights.

The Kia Soul on the other hand, is not (yet?) getting any refresh, and is surely already suffering from its aging design (if not its still-decent powertrain technology). Kia have unveiled a new version of the Soul for the US market, supposedly coming in “late summer.”

However, the Soul is no longer sold (nor made) in Korea (neither BEV, nor combustion versions), and I don’t have good information about its fate in the European market. As of now, the Kia Norway website is still marketing essentially the same Soul version we have seen since its Norwegian roll out in February 2020.

It would be a shame to see the Kia Soul fading out in Norway, and in Europe. Please let us know in the comments below if you have solid (inside) information about its fate.

Outlook

Norway’s plugin EV progress has backed off slightly over the past two months (see July’s report), though for known reasons. Partly this is due to volume-leader Tesla’s July-August volume falling from 2,085 units last year to 893 units this year. Even had Tesla just repeated the 2,085 volume again this year (rather than its habitual annual growth) we would be looking at a 79.4% BEV share over these past two months, rather than the 73.3% we have in fact seen.

The other factor has been the fall off in PHEV volumes and share YoY, from 17.7% share for July-August 2021, to 11.7% this year, a six percent YoY loss.

The Tesla dip is temporary, whereas the PHEV dip seems likely to be more permanent. This is not terrible news, since Norway’s new car market is certainly approaching the end-game of the EV transition, and PHEVs were inevitably going to give way to BEVs at some point. However, it’s not great that this is happening whilst totally plugless new sales — getting all their energy from combustion — have still taken around 12.5% of the market thus far in 2022!

I expect next month to bring another Tesla push, and BEVs to take around 85% share, with combined plugins around 91% share.

Norway, seeing a huge proportion of its national wealth come from fossil fuel exports, is not suffering economically from energy inflation like the rest of Europe is, at least at the national scale. Whilst the country is benefiting overall, individual consumers are still facing energy price inflation.

Nevertheless, we can expect to see Norwegian consumer sentiment broadly holding up better than elsewhere in Europe, and new auto demand remaining fairly steady. Supply chain issues are affecting the global auto industry, but Norway being a relatively small volume market should not be greatly impacted by this.

What are your thoughts on Norway’s auto market and EV transition? Please join in the discussion in the comments below.

If you are curious about Norway’s vehicle fleet transition, check out my deep dive report from last week.

 
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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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