Swedish vehicle industry – more than Volvo

Ask any foreigner to name a Swedish vehicle, and he or she will immediately mention Volvo. But there is more, both established and newcomers, from bike-like electric pods, to passenger cars and heavy vehicles, all characterized by an impressive focus on climate and sustainability. Let the 2030-secretariat guide you!

Bikes and mopeds

Traditionally, mopeds are used either by 15-18 year olds in rural areas,before they obtain their driving license, or the elderly. A group of Swedish hipster entrepreneurs are challenging this, with their electric Vessla – sounding like Tesla and meaning weasel. It is stylish, fast, silent and emissions free, and mainly sold over the internet, with previous buyers acting as Vessla Heroes. When they offer potential clients to try their Vessla, they get points that can be exchanged for up-and-coming designer clothes. Most of the early customers have never even considered a moped before.

Swedish bike manufacturers have proliferated in recent years, with a return to actually producing at least part of the bikes in Sweden rather than in Asia. With the government’s 25 percent price reduction on e-bikes, companies specializing in upmarket e-bikes such as Walleräng are particularly interesting.

Light vehicles

Over the past decades, passenger vehicles have grown larger and heavier, but on average there is still only 1.5 persons in them. This is now being challenged by several newcomers in the market. CleanMotion is a three-wheel electric vehicle, classified as a light motorbike but mainly resembling a tuk-tuk, developed by Hans Folkesson former head of development at
Volvo and Skoda-Volkswagen. It is now seen as a “pod-taxi” in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and local production in India and Indonesia is starting up.

Cars

The other Swedish brand that many might know is Saab, which has now become Chinese-owned NEVS. Their focus is strictly electric cars, starting with the Saab 9-3 platform but developing new cars focusing on the Chinese shared vehicle market, and investing heavily in automated, self-driving cars.

Through innovative crowd-funding, Uniti has developed a light, small electric vehicle that they are now redesigning to be classified as a car, meaning that they also face much tougher and more costly regulations on safety. While production in Sweden is strived for, other venues such as Silverstone in England are also being developed.

Trucks and buses

Scania, though not present in the US, is in fact one of the world’s largest manufacturers of trucks and buses, and has what is probably the widest range of sustainable solutions. It offers vehicles designed for biodiesel, biogas, ethanol and electricity, including e-trucks powered by the road. Einride focuses only in electric self-driving, driverless trucks which
enables them to redesign the truck so that more space can be used for cargo.

Inzile is specializing in last mileage cargo, developing modestly priced, small electric trucks that may reach the inner cities where large trucks are inconvenient or simply not allowed.

Boats

Despite having spent absolutely zero on marketing, Candela Speed Boats already has 150 orders for their electric, carbonfibre speedboat with a top speed of 30 knots and a price tag of around 250 000 USD. At the other end of the market, Swedish Crescent reports that their electric, small boats for recreational fishing already outsell the conventional ones.

… and batteries

With the Swedish and global emphasis on electromobility, the need for batteries increases rapidly – as well as the sustainability requirements. Northvolt, lead by former Tesla executive Peter Carlsson, wants to answer both with a “gigafactory” in northern Sweden, using 100% green energy and sourcing raw materials from existing batteries rather than mining.

A bright future

From bikes to trucks and even boats, the vehicle market is transforming rapidly. Legislative demands and customer expectations means that we are moving away not only from the fossil fuels that we know so well, but also from the inefficiencies of the past – space and weight but also the driver him- or herself. In this megashift, Swedish vehicle companies are positioning themselves to be of global relevance and may be waiting for your call, your order or your readiness to invest in a brighter future.

Mattias Goldmann
CEO of Green and Liberal Think Tank Fores