Switzerland: Boom of Electric Vehicles’ share in transportation

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In the last decade, European countries formed various programs which aimed at solving pollution issues and climate change problems. European Commission greatly helps its member states to form their strategies and projects in order to boost as many green policies as possible. Alongside member states, regulations and rules laid out by European Commission also serve as a fundamental basis for non-member countries, one of them being Switzerland.

Since the beginning of 2021, Switzerland became a firm leader in regards to the share of electric vehicles in overall vehicle usage. In March 2021, nearly 40% of all vehicles on the road were classed as EV. Battery electric vehicles presented 9,9% of the market, plug-in hybrids, also known as PHEV, presented 8,3% share and hybrids have taken up staggering 20,6%. 

Adoption rates have also increased dramatically during the past three years. In 2018, adoption rate of EV was only 1,7%, while this same number in 2021 was around 19%.

At the end of last year, from September to November of 2021, the overall share of EVs peaked at around 45%. Full electric vehicles category also presented 18,3% of all newly registered vehicles in this same period, while PHEV peaked at 28% according to research presented by Touring Club Switzerland.

Christoph Wolnik, spokesman of Auto-Schweiz organisation supported this research by predicting that the share of EV will reach 50% in the first six months of 2022. He thinks that full EVs will continue to revolve around 18-19%, only because of the chip shortage.

The companies with greatest successes in this regard are Toyota, Hyundai and primarily Tesla. All of those have seen an increase in sales of their EV models, compared to 2019. In 2020, there were 43 EV models available in Switzerland. By the end of 2021, this same number increased by 50%. Top three models by sale were Tesla Model 3 all-electric sedan, with around 5,000 units sold in 2021, Volkswagen ID.3, with nearly 2,500 units sold and Škoda Enyaq, with around 2,200 units sold in the same year.

Important difference that sets Switzerland apart from other western European countries is that this whole trend was firstly supported by cantons, which function similar to states in the USA. They regulated their own policies with various subsidy policies for local residents who use these types of vehicles, supported by cantonal governments. One example of these policies is the canton of Thurgau, which has subsidized all purchases of EV that run on green electricity with 4,000 Swiss Francs since 2019. Saint Gallen subsidized 5,000 Swiss Francs, while the city of Basel offers subsidies of up to 10,000 Swiss Francs for taxi drivers. There are also benefits in regards to traffic taxes in 15 cantons for users of EV. The Canton of Zürich eliminated all traffic taxes for these same users. 

At first, the federal government was involved only in infrastructure projects, such as construction and funding of charging stations around the country.

New environmental law, presented by the Swiss federal government in December of 2021, established a new framework for green policies. The main focus of this law is to promote reduction of greenhouse emissions by 50% until the year 2030.

There will be stricter CO2 emission limits for vehicles, primarily for importers who will be penalised if they do not reach these new targets. Furthermore, this law will also serve as basis for the construction of charging stations, which will have a fund of 230 million euro.

Today, there are 8,497 charging stations around the country already installed, which is an increase of 600 since last year. (photo credit: Andrew Roberts/Unsplash)