In a landmark month for Swedish electric vehicle (EV) sales, every second passenger car sold in Sweden in June was a plug-in electric vehicle – either a full battery EV or plug-in hybrid EV – with the Chinese made budget MG ZS EV beating the Tesla Model 3 to the top selling spot.
Before a sweeping shift in the country’s tax code came into effect at the start of July, Swedish EV sales skyrocketed as vehicles registered before the tax change will be taxed according to the old rate.
As such, according to a report by Schmidt Automotive Research, Sweden’s June sale of EVs was likely juiced by a number of fleet-owners and dealers self-registering plug-in models so as to take advantage of the old rate.
The mix of plug-in EVs in Sweden’s vehicle sales between January and May averaged out to 37.5% – which on its own ensures that Sweden topped the European Union market as the country with the highest plug-in passenger car penetration.
The improved June numbers lifts this average to 40%.
All of this will likely result in a temporary drop in plug-in volumes and penetration mix over the following months – although, according to Schmidt Automotive Research, “the summer months are unrepresentative” anyway “due to the Scandinavian summer holiday shut-down period making it difficult to identify significant trends.”
By the end of September, however, there should be a better understanding of how EV sales in Sweden have shaped up after the new tax code was brought into effect.
Sweden’s passenger vehicle market was already affected earlier this year by the country’s bonus-malus system was altered, increasing the benefit of owning a BEV over a PHEV, and causing BEV sales to outnumber PHEVs in April, in what Schmidt Automotive Research describes as “a traditionally PHEV driven market.”
As such, PHEV sales were boosted in March before the April change, which resulted in a record month of over 14,000 PHEV registrations, or a market penetration of over 30%.
The consistent changes and fluctuations in Sweden’s tax code and EV sales has nevertheless pushed the country’s EV market to be just as large as neighbouring Norway – traditionally one of Europe’s leading markets for electric vehicles.
According to Schmidt Automotive Research, less than 100 units separated Sweden from becoming Scandinavia’s largest plug-in new passenger car market, with Norway registering 69,367 units and Sweden 69,280.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.