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Sweden’s BEVs Hit New High Before Incentive Cut

Sweden’s plugin electric vehicle share hit record highs in November, gaining 64.6% of the auto market, from 54.3% a year ago. Full electrics saw dramatic growth in share, gaining 42.5% in November, from 26.0% year on year, influenced by policy changes. Overall auto volumes were 25,588 units, up 21.5% YoY from a weak 2021, though still some 15.8% down from pre-2020 seasonal norms (averaging >30,000 units). November’s bestselling vehicle was the Volvo XC40 full electric.

November’s combined plugin share of 64.5% comprised 42.5% battery electrics (BEVs), and 22.1% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare with 26.0%, and 28.3%, a year ago, showing a striking growth in BEVs even whilst PHEVs receded.

In volume terms, BEVs broke a new monthly record, at 10,868 units (almost double YoY from 5,468). The public policy environment was the largest influence on these results: The “climate bonus” incentive was scrapped during the month, leading to a rush of BEV orders to catch the bonus before expiry.

Some of these rushed BEV orders could be fulfilled quickly, juicing November’s BEV registration volumes, whereas most will take up to 12 months to actually be delivered to customers, and appear in the registration results.

Conventional combustion-only powertrains (combined) were down to a new record low, falling just under 25% share of the market, for the first time (24.6%).

November’s Top Selling BEVs

The Volvo XC40 was the best selling BEV in November, again beating the Volkswagen ID.4 into second place, same as last month. This time around, its sibling the Volvo C40 took 3rd, and cousin Polestar 2 took 4th, a great result for the Volvo-Polestar family.

The Tesla Model Y recovered to 5th spot, from relative absence last month. The MG Marvel R regained a top ten place, for the first time since July.

Further back, the Renault Megane continued to grow sales, reaching 237 units in November, and 16th spot.

In terms of newer emerging models, the MG4 saw its first commercial volumes in November, with 102 units. Likewise, the BYD Atto 3, which first appeared last month in sample volumes, saw a decent 83 units in November. It’s an SUV, sized in-between the Kia Niro, and VW ID.4, Sweden’s two most popular BEVs. Yet it is more affordable than either, whilst offering similar range and capability.

Both the MG4 and BYD Atto 3 have great sales potential in the Swedish market.

At the more expensive end of the market, the BYD Tang, a larger premium SUV, also stepped up volumes and sold 24 units in November.

Last but not least, the new BMW i7 broke cover, and registered an initial 3 units in November (perhaps only showroom units for now). This high end model (almost €150k base price) won’t ever get near the top 20, but it’s nevertheless good to see BMW moving yet another one of its longest-established iconic vehicle segments over to BEV.

Now let’s take a look at the 3-month picture:

Tesla’s irregular logistics mean that the Model Y has, for now, fallen off from its previous lead, to be replaced by the Volvo XC40. Quite some way behind, the VW ID.4 takes 2nd, and the Volvo C40 takes 3rd.

Here are the main climbers since three months ago:

Here are those that dropped their rankings:

Remember that Sweden is a smaller market, so manufacturers’ temporary allocation decisions can result in significant swings in model registration volumes, which don’t necessarily reflect the actual popularity of the vehicle.

Outlook

As noted above, much of November’s strong BEV result was due to pull forward effects of the recent “climate bonus” incentive expiry. As Mobilty Sweden put it “The [unexpected] scrapping of the climate bonus led to a rush to the car dealerships on Tuesday 8 November and historically high order numbers, where 95 percent of the orders were for rechargeable cars” (machine translation).

We have seen from the UK — which also cancelled plugin purchase incentives recently — that BEV demand growth does not necessarily take a large permanent hit from reduced purchase incentives. However, the UK implemented a steady phase-out over time, rather than a single cut off. We will have to wait and see how Sweden’s BEV market is affected by this recent, more abrupt, change.

For their part, Mobility Sweden estimate that ” We assess that the strong growth rate of electric cars will be slowed down if new policy instruments are not introduced.” (machine translation)

Given this recent policy change, it’s hard to forecast what will happen in December, and in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on Sweden’s auto market transition? Please jump in to the comments below to join the discussion.

 
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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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