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Norway’s BEVs Still Growing Well, Even While PHEVs Fall Away

Norway’s auto market saw 86.4% plugin electric vehicle share in October, down year on year, from 89.3%. Full electrics grew share by 7.5% YoY, but were outweighed by a drop in plugin hybrids. Overall auto volumes were 12,558 units, up 8.5% YoY, and above the pre-2020 seasonal norm of 11,635 units. October’s bestseller was the Volkswagen ID.4

October’s overall plugin result of 86.4% comprised a near record 77.5% full electrics (BEVs), and 9.0% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare with shares of 70.1% and 19.2%, YoY.

Only in March 2022, and December 2021, have BEVs seen substantially higher share, but the overall result was let down by the downward trend in PHEV share.

BEV volume increased by almost 20% YoY, whilst PHEV volume fell by almost 50%. PHEVs were barely above HEVs (977 units) for the first time in years. This is partly because the most affordable PHEVs (e.g. Kia C’eed) are still above €35,000 in Norway, whereas the most affordable BEV is around €22,500 (VW e-Up!).

Most HEVs are Toyotas. The Toyota Yaris HEV (€28,400) costs 26% more than the similarly sized VW e-Up! which is a full BEV, with much lower running costs, and far better residuals. Perhaps Toyota’s Norwegian marketing department is very “skilled” (self-charging hybrid anyone?), or perhaps other factors are involved. Would Norwegians please jump in to the comments to help us understand this dynamic?

Best Selling BEVs

With Tesla having peaked last month, Volkswagen is once again back to pole position with the ID.4. The Skoda Enyaq, and BMW iX, take 2nd and 3rd spots.

The Toyota BZ4X is back on sale after some recent snafus, with a decent 251 units (a personal best) in October, though this may reflect the clearance of a backlog, rather than indicating the level of sustained demand. Time will tell. There’s a similar story for its sibling, the Subaru Soltera.

The most exciting news of the month was the first appearance of the BYD Atto 3, which promises to bring new value to the compact family SUV segment. It saw an initial 46 units in October, and can climb much higher from here.

The Volkswagen ID.Buzz stepped up, seeing 80 units (from an initial 5 last month). The cargo variant registered an additional 60 units.

The new MG4 continued to rise, with 55 units (from an initial 11 last month). The Renault Megane also saw its strongest month yet, with 177 units. Its cousin, the Nissan Ariya also hit a new peak of 78 units.

Let’s now take the broader view of the trailing 3 months:

The top 4 spots remain the same over the August-to-October period as they were over May-to-July. The Tesla Model Y still retains the top spot, due to strong September volumes.

The VW ID.4 takes 2nd, and its cousin, the Skoda Enyaq, takes 3rd. The BMW iX takes 4th.

Here’s the summary of the main climbers since the previous May-to-July quarter:

On the flip side, the following models fell over the period:

How will the final two months of the year look? Now that Tesla’s European factory is cranking, we can expect another large push, and the Model Y will probably take the top spot in December, and for Q4 overall.

I’m interested to see how quickly the newest generation of (relatively) affordable BEVs – like the Renault Megane, BYD Atto 3, and MG4 – can climb up the ranks and appear in the top 20 charts.

Fleet Transition Update

Every quarter we get updated data on the composition of Norway’s passenger vehicle fleet. The graph below incorporates the latest data from the end of Q3 2022.

Norway’s passenger vehicle fleet, totaling 2.815 million vehicles, is now 25.4% plugin, up from 20.7% YoY. The BEV portion alone is now 18.9%, from 14.8% YoY.

Passenger vehicles’ rates of final retirement from the fleet (either scrapped, or exported), typically at around 18 years old, are somewhat erratic over the seasons. Scrapping tends to be slightly higher in the winter months (because this is when mechanical issues deemed ‘terminal’ are more likely to reveal themselves).

On average, plugin share of the fleet has been growing by between 1% and 1.4% per quarter over the past 12 months. This should increase to an average of 1.5% per quarter over the next couple of years, as the DC infrastructure improves and ever more affordable BEVs become available.

Once BEVs get fully affordable (on par with ICE), and models are available in all vehicle types, including small economy classes (well before 2030), Norway’s turnover rate to plugins may approach 7% per year. This will result from even more folks deciding that the running cost savings (compared to their 15+ year old combustion vehicle), and much better residuals, are worth the up-front investment. Social pressure may also play a role on bringing forward the traditional retirement age of combustion vehicles.

Note that Norway’s combustion vehicles with decent life remaining don’t necessarily have to be prematurely scrapped, they can still be exported to other regions a bit further back on the EV transition pathway.

For a fuller discussion of Norway’s fleet transition dynamics, check out my recent deep dive.

 

Outlook

Being a net fossil fuel exporter, Norway is in the unique position in Europe of benefiting from the regions’ inflating energy prices, and seeing – from a safe distance – the regions’ accompanying economic downturn. This is one main reason why auto sales are holding up well in Norway, whilst in all other European markets they are falling.

Being a small and wealthy market, able to pay more than neighbouring countries, Norway’s auto sales will not be as affected by industry supply-chain challenges as larger and more economically exposed countries (Germany, UK, etc). We can expect Norway’s auto market and plugin sales to continue to remain in line with recent trends.

If Tesla makes the expected big push in December, we should see BEV share percentage close to the mid-80s, and overall plugins into the low 90s.

What are your thoughts on Norway’s EV transition? Please join in the discussion in the comment section.

 

 
 
 
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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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