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Norway’s Plugin Growth Flat In September, BEV Share Up

September saw Norway’s plugin electric vehicles take 89.1% of the market, down year on year from 91.5% share. Whilst full electrics saw very slight growth in share, plugin hybrids lost share. Overall auto volumes were at 14,646 units, down 18.6% YoY, though still up from pre-2020 seasonal norms (around 12,300 units). The Tesla Model Y was September’s best seller, albeit down in volume YoY.

September’s combined plugin result of 89.1% comprised 77.7% full electrics (BEVs), and 11.4% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This compares to respective shares of 77.5% and 13.9% a year ago.

As we saw in neighbouring Sweden, Tesla under-performed in September, due to temporary production snafus. Although industry-wide supply chain problems meant that other BEV makers supplied 5.4% less of their vehicles to Norway compared to last September, Tesla supplied 36.6% less, a shortfall of over 2,000 units.

Had Tesla faced “only” the more modest headwinds that other brands faced, the BEV share last month would have been around 90%. This would have been a natural progression from the 86% BEV we saw back in March, and a match for 2021’s growth pattern.

Meanwhile, since the start of this year, PHEVs have dropped off in Norway (due to policy changes), so the slip-up of BEVs is all the more visible.

But this is just all so much tea-leaf gazing; we are where we are, and Tesla’s (and the industry’s) temporary supply problems are disrupting the growth trajectory we had become used to over the past few years. As I’ve said many times, there is no issue with demand, just a temporarily contained supply of BEVs, and very long waiting lists for most models.

Meanwhile combustion-only vehicles continued to lose volume YoY, with a combined 781 units this September compared to 956 units last September.

Top Selling BEVs

Despite their 36.6% YoY volume drop, Tesla still made their usual end-of-quarter push, giving the Model Y the top spot in September by a very large margin, from the Volkswagen ID.4, and Skoda Enyaq.

The Model 3 came in 4th, though with “just” 602 units (from last year’s 2218 units).

After three of months of low volumes, Volvo and Polestar BEVs were back to decent performance in September.

Likewise, the Kia Niro, having completed its model refresh, is now picking up strength again, though still just missing the top 20 chart, in 21st rank.

In news outside the top 20, a few newcomers were spied starting to trickle in at low volumes. The much-delayed Nissan Ariya continued to build, with 46 deliveries, having appeared for the fist time just last month.

The new MG4 saw an initial 11 deliveries, and we can expect a lot more soon, given the relatively affordable price point.

The new Nio ET7, a large, high end, long-range, performance sedan, with battery swap, saw an initial 6 deliveries. The new and much awaited Volkswagen ID.Buzz finally saw its first deliveries in September, with 5 units.

Interestingly, the Renault Megane is only hovering at modest volumes for now, with 51 units in September (from 72 and 46 previously). This is due to allocation decisions, with the French home market still being prioritised for now (almost 3,000 units in September).

It’s a similar story with the Cupra Born, which has hovered around 70 units per month since launching back in December-January.

Let’s take a step back and look at the rankings over the trailing 3 months:

Here, erratic delivery logistics are smoothed out, and the Tesla Model Y’s lead over its two closest rivals (VW ID.4, Skoda Enyaq) is narrower. More on this below.

The Tesla Model 3, which saw historically low deliveries from April though to July, has now recovered to 4th spot, thanks to decent volumes over the past two months.

The VW ID.5 (a coupe-back variant of the ID.4) has ramped well since starting in May, gaining 5th spot.

Here’s the summary of the climbers, compared to the April-to-June period:

Conversely, here are the models which fell over the period:

As mentioned above, the Kia Niro has also seen recent volatility (falling from 19th to 40th) due to logistics of the model refresh, but may recover into the top 20 before the end of this year. However, more and more compelling and less expensive models are joining the segment (Megane, MG4, Cupra Born, BYD Atto 3). The Niro’s rank will likely be dictated by supply volume relative to peers.

How unassailable is the top spot of the Tesla Model Y, as an individual model, in the medium term? As well as supply arriving from Shanghai, the Tesla Gigafactory in Grünheide, Germany is now pumping out 2,000 units per week, and still ramping.

I would expect that — by the end of this year — Grünheide will be at a run rate of around 16,000 units per month (around 48,000 per quarter), on top of what is incoming from Shanghai. It will climb further in 2023.

Since Tesla has decent room to play with the price point and margins, there’s no doubt they will sell all the Model Ys they can make in Europe. This being the case, and with the Model Y being a very popular format/offering in Norway, I can’t see any individual model outselling it for a while.

Of course — as an individual model is the key qualifier — if we combine Volkswagen Group’s sibling model variants (the ID.4, the ID.5, the Skoda Enyaq, Audi Q4) they already outweigh the Model Y’s volume by almost 2x in Norway. This may narrow as Grünheide quickly ramps, but VW Group are (more quietly) ramping also.

This may be a weakness of Tesla’s market-positioning strategy in the long run. Due to the status frame through which many (“conspicuous”) consumers view the world, you can’t both be a prestige auto brand (e.g. Audi) and an affordable brand (e.g. Skoda, Seat). Volkswagen Group knows this, and offers many price points and variants, whilst saving money on highly-shared underpinnings.

Outlook

Norway is still making progress in the EV transition, albeit with BEVs taking share mainly from PHEVs since the start of this year.

For folks wondering, the two most popular non-BEVs sold in Norway are the Toyota RAV4 and the Toyota Yaris (both mainly HEV variants). In the medium term, the big issue for getting to 100% BEV will be having more simple affordable BEVs available.

For the Yaris to be displaced obviously needs affordable-and-fully-competent small BEVs to be made available, of which there are few to none at present. Let’s see if BYD can oblige over the coming year or two.

What are your thoughts on Norway’s EV transition? Any insights into supply chains improving (or worsening)? Please join in the discussion in the comments below.

For analysis of Norway’s fleet transition progress, see our recent in-depth report.

 

 
 
 
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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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