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Switzerland New Norway of EVs: Tesla Model 3 Topping Sales, No Federal Subsidies

According to official data, the adoption of electric vehicles in Switzerland is growing at an exponential rate. In one year, new electric vehicle registrations grew by an impressive 63%: yet another positive, tangible example for the world.


Norway has long been considered an example of what could potentially happen in the rest of the world as regarding the EV market. A sort of laboratory ahead of its time, year after year the Scandinavian country has been offering surprising - and at the same time encouraging - data on the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) market penetration rates. Now there is another country that stands out for its figures and which should be kept in mind: Switzerland, clearly becoming the new “Norway” of electric cars.

Tesla Model 3, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

In 2021 the Tesla Model 3 became Switzerland's best-selling car in the overall market, outselling all other models, including ICE cars (Internal Combustion Engine): gasoline, diesel or hybrid. In its official data, Swiss IVZ ASTRA published a graph showing the ranking of the 20 best-selling models in Switzerland in 2021. The Tesla Model 3, with 5,072 units sold throughout the year, basically beat the Skoda Octavia and the Audi Q3 on the race to the sales podium. Among the top 20 is also the Volkswagen ID.3 (in the 19th place) with 2,423 units sold throughout the year.

While it is surprising for an electric car (that is, 100% BEV) to be above the rest of the models sold altogether on a specific market, this figure would be only an anecdote if it were not for the fact that, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the adoption of electric vehicles in Switzerland is clearly growing at an exponential rate. Comparing November 2021 to November 2020, new electric vehicle registrations grew by an astonishing 63%.

At the same time sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles sharply fell by 27% and 59% respectively, providing another clear insight into the Swiss market trend in terms of customer preferences. This is a trend that has been observed for some time now: the BEV market share went from 1.7% in 2018 to 14.3% in June 2021, which represents an amazing increase in a very short period of time.

Tesla Model 3, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Another reason that will probably make Switzerland even closer to Norway in terms of electric vehicle market share is the imminent arrival of the Tesla Model Y to its market. For now, the few units that have arrived - mostly from November 2021 on - have arrived by train. In other words, their sales are not even included in the data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. In 2022, when Tesla Giga-Berlin finally enters ramp up production - which is probably a couple of months away - the Model Y could very well become the best-selling battery electric car (SUV) on the Swiss market, even above the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla Model Y, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

It is worth noticing an important detail: Switzerland is able to achieve these amazing numbers without the (extremely...) significant advantages that Norway gives to electric cars. For instance, electric cars do not pay VAT nowadays in Norway, while the general rate for an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) is 25%. EVs also do not pay road taxes or import duties, and have a minimum 50% reduction in road tolls, ferry transportation or in regulated urban parking areas; these discounts and subsidies can even increase depending on the location. In addition there is a very healthy consensus and accord among all political parties (another huge advantage) as to maintain and expand the charging infrastructure.

As we can see, Switzerland is surprisingly one of the countries in Europe that does not offer nationwide incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. It is each Swiss canton that decides the kind of aids and subsidies it offers to buyers based on its own, consensus-based criteria. Certainly, a good example for the rest of the world: for instance, can you imagine what it would be if new electric vehicle registrations grew by 63% in the US market?

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.


John Goreham    January 31, 2022 - 2:38PM

Great report, Nick. Great detail. I'd like to learn more about the Skoda Octavia, and other models in that total sales for 2021 list and learn the percentages that are hybrid and plug-in hybrid. I suspect we may find that this market is greening up its fleet in more ways than just BEVs. I'm not an expert on Euro-market cars, but the Octavia iv has an EV range of about 43 miles I think.