Electric Vehicles in Switzerland: What You Should Know

June 27, 2022
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Electric Vehicles in Switzerland

According to a study published by FOEN, the total GHG emissions produced by the transport sector in Switzerland decreased from 16.27Mt of CO2 in 2012 to 13.58Mt in 2020. This critical period of change, which began exactly a decade ago, coincides with the evolution of electric vehicles (EVs) and the rapid growth of charging stations in Switzerland.  

As of 2021, the Swiss EV market made up 38.8% of the country’s total vehicle market, with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) capturing 9.9%, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) 8.3%, and hybrids (HEVs) 20.6%. These figures demonstrate a growth that set sail over a decade ago.

EV Growth in Switzerland in the Last Decade

While Switzerland may not be among the top countries with the largest EV markets, the country has, over the past decade, demonstrated a rapid-growing adoption of EVs. This characteristic is displayed not in the number of EVs currently available but in the annual increment as described in the image below.

Graphical representation of the growth of EVs in Switzerland between 2010 and 2021. Source: IEA

EV Market Share

Over the past decade, Switzerland has maintained a steady positive evolution in its EV market valuation. The PHEV market share was sustained at zero up until 2015, when it expanded to 1%. As illustrated in the following chart, this figure would soar to 15% in 2021, making Switzerland rank seventh among European countries with the highest PHEV market shares.

Graphical representation of the market shares of PHEV in Switzerland over the past decade. Source: Cleantechnica

Moreover, as of February 2021, Switzerland ranked third in the list of the top seven European countries with the highest market shares of BEVs.

Graphical representation of the BEV market shares of the top seven European countries. Source: Cleantechnica

Electric Vehicle Policies in Switzerland.

On December 23, 2011, the Swiss government passed a Federal Act on the Reduction of CO2 Emissions law, which didn’t become fully effective until 2013.

The act stated that GHG emissions must be reduced by at least 20% from the 1990 levels. To guarantee fulfilment of this target, the act included measures for every concerned sector in the country, particularly the transport sector. These measures included CO2 emission thresholds for passenger vehicles. According to the act, CO2 emissions from new passenger cars must be shredded to an average of 130g of CO2 per kilometre. The penalties for violating this instruction were as follows

  • CHF5 to CHF8— for the first gram of CO2 above the target.
  • CHF15 to CHF24— for the second gram of CO2 above the target.
  • CHF25 to CHF40— for the third gram of CO2 above the target.
  • CHF95 to CHF152— for over 3 grams of CO2 above the target.

This law wasn’t as effective as it had been envisaged to be. This is evident in the country’s failure to meet the 2020 GHG emissions reduction target. This perhaps was what forced a revision of the law in 2021.

The new law introduced incentives, which had been absent in the previous laws, to help bolster individual contributions to carbon neutrality. This law aims to halve Switzerland’s GHG emissions from the 1990 levels by 2030 and completely neutralise the emissions by 2050 by

  • Lowering CO2 limits for vehicles and punishing car importers who fail to meet the new targets.
  • Investing CHF210 million into the installation of EV charging points.
  • Removing public transport tax breaks for diesel-powered vehicles and funnelling these funds into producing more EV replacements.
  • Obliging petrol and diesel importers to replace their importation with renewable alternatives.

Sales of EVs in Switzerland

Over the past decade, Switzerland has witnessed exponential growth in EV sales. As of 2021, BEVs made up 18.3% of total vehicles in Switzerland. The perceived progress is illustrated in the chart below.

Graphical representation of EV sales in Switzerland between 2015 and 2021. Source: Swiss Info

EV Charging Stations in Switzerland

Another aspect where Switzerland has gained impressive momentum is the size of EV charging stations. The number of installed EV stations within a decade, as depicted in the following chart, has grown from only 404 in 2012 to over 6,600 stations in 2020 and 7,150 public stations in 2022.Graphical representation of the growth of EV charging stations in Switzerland between 2012 and 2020

Graphical representation of the growth of EV charging stations in Switzerland between 2012 and 2020. Source: Statista

Ongoing EV Projects in Switzerland 

Research and Markets and Electrive predict that the Swiss market is expected to have a CAGR of 21% by 2021 from 2019, and by 2025, the country will have installed 20,000 public EV charging stations. One of the major factors that will fuel the realisation of these projections is the availability of sustainable EV projects. Below are five ongoing projects in Switzerland.

  1. H55’s electric propulsion system
  2. Honda and V2S Suisse Consortium’s V2G Charging
  3. Audi’s fast-charging hub
  4. Battrion and Jagenberg Group’s aligned graphite technology for fast-charging EV cells
  5. Micro’s Microlino EV series

Who are the Major EV Players in Switzerland?

Switzerland is teeming with numerous EV businesses, including startups and veterans. In 2021, according to data obtained from Auto Schweiz, as depicted in the table below, Tesla ranked first in the list of companies with the most EVs sold in Switzerland.

List of EVs sold per model as of 2021

Model - Number of cars sold

  1. Tesla Model 3 - 5,064
  2. Volkswagen ID3 - 2,419
  3. Skoda Enyak - 2,184
  4. Renault Zoe - 1,557
  5. Fia 500 - 1,465
  6. Tesla Model Y - 1,392
  7. Volkswagen ID4 - 1,370
  8. Audi e-Tron - 1,010
  9. Volvo XC-40 - 952
  10. Hyundai Kona - 910

Statistics also show that Tesla, so far in 2022 alone, dominates the total new BEV registrations in Switzerland. The following charts illustrate the top 15 registered BEV and PHEV models in 2022 as of the end of May.

Chart signifying top 15 registered BEV models in 2022 as of May. Source: Auto Schweiz

Chart signifying top 15 registered PHEV models in 2022 as of May. Source: Auto Schweiz

What is it Like to Own an EV in Switzerland?

One of the observable inferences that you can draw from the decade-long trend in Switzerland’s EV market is the amount of accessible information. Therefore, if you own an EV or you are a resident considering a transition to eMobility in Switzerland, below are the essential socio-economic details you must equip yourself with.

Charging Cost of Electric Vehicle in Switzerland.

The cost of charging an EV in Switzerland is determined by factors such as host network, vehicle capacity, and mode of charging.

Table showing EV charging cost in Switzerland

An effective trick you can utilise to save costs is smart charging. The Flexo Smart Charge studies your needs, electricity cost, and availability to help you manage, monitor, and adjust your EV’s electricity consumption. In addition, it optimises V2G bi-directional charging and makes you earn additional income.

EV Charging Stations in Switzerland

Switzerland currently has about 7,150 public charging stations spread across the country. With assistive policies set in place, this figure is expected to continue to rise. However, a typical EV owner might encounter difficulty locating the nearest charging station. Switzerland has smart platforms such as Swiss Charge Map to help you locate the nearest charging stations.

Electric Vehicle Charging Subsidies

While the Swiss Federal Government does not explicitly offer EV subsidies, it’s essential to know the select few parts of the country that offer subsidies on EV purchases:

  • The government of Thurgau— provides a subsidy of CHF3,932.73 for purchasing an EV.
  • St. Gallen— offers a contribution of CHF4,915.91 on EV purchases.
  • Basel— gives up to CHF9,831.82 in subsidy when purchasing a taxi.

EV Smart Charging in Switzerland

EV Smart charging in Switzerland is relatively still in its developing stage. The good news, however, is Switzerland, being a country that has embraced decentralisation of grid systems, is a fertile ground for bidirectional EV charging to grow. The Honda V2G project is already demonstrating this.

The Honda experiment, which is currently ongoing, involves allocating 50 Honda EVs to 40 stations across Switzerland. It’s been established that a single Honda e-unit can feed 20kW of power back into the grid in bidirectional charging. This project aims to create sustainable, decentralised grid stations, which, if successful, will create a blueprint for smart charging growth in Switzerland.

In Conclusion.

Statistics quoted from authoritative sources have indicated a clear picture of how far the journey of EVs in Switzerland has come. Furthermore, the ambitious targets of Switzerland regarding EVs have also been discussed. While these targets prepare the nation for a push towards these goals, it is highly recommended that more incentives be provided to fast-track the widespread adoption of EVs in Switzerland.

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