13,896 new plug-in vehicles hit the roads of Scandinavia in the first quarter of 2016. Both Norway and Finland had their best-selling quarters to date. However, sales in Denmark stalled as the government phased out tax breaks.
As reported by auto industry publication Insero Quarterly, EVs are still outselling PHEVs, but the latter are closing the gap quickly. 7,541 EVs were sold in Q1, while 6,355 PHEVs changed hands, 45.7% of the plug-in total.
“It takes some getting used to to switch from gasoline to electricity, and at the same time the range of new EVs remain limited, providing excellent conditions for PHEVs as a transitional technology. We expect a significant increase in the coming years – until the market for EVs has matured sufficiently,” explains Insero Consultant Søren Bernt Lindegaard.
Norway remains the world’s most charged nation, with plug-in sales of over 10,000 for the quarter – a third of the overall auto market.
“Norway shows how quickly public opinion can be influenced through a determined effort by politicians,” says Lindegaard. “Critics will argue that the success of EVs in Norway is a matter of unfair subsidies, however it does not explain the large sale of PHEVs, which do not share the same benefits as the EVs.”
In Finland, plug-ins are only now beginning to catch on – 390 units sold in Q1, the best quarter to date.
In Denmark, a phase-out of tax incentives for plug-ins has pooped the party. New EV buyers will be charged 20% of the country’s hefty registration tax in 2016, and more in subsequent years. “The gradual introduction of EVs into the normal tax system in Denmark has – as expected – had a significant impact on sales. Where we saw 1,185 new battery-powered vehicles on average per quarter in 2015, we have only seen 242 so far in 2016,” says Lindegaard.
“The stagnant sales of EVs makes Denmark less capable of exploiting its large amount of renewable energy,” laments Lindegaard.