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Germany: 4% of Cars Registered Last Month Were Plug-in Electric

Germany is cars.

And until recently, maybe with the exception of BMW, German automakers were way behind the Americans, the Chinese and the French-Japanese Renault-Nissan conglomerate when it comes to all-electric cars. Maybe one of the reasons is that they did not want to build them.

Car manufacturing industry, at least in Germany, is a well-oiled machine that provides a huge number of jobs, not just in assembly plants but also at all the vendors providing the necessary parts (and the unnecessary parts too), at the vendors’ vendors and so on. You wouldn’t want to break this system with a fundamental change, like, for example, ditching the internal combustion engine altogether.

Don’t forget the human cost.

Germans work the shortest hours in the European Union. About 24% shorter than Americans. Yes, two hours a day less. Even people in filthy rich countries with riches shared among a small population, like Luxembourg and Norway, work longer hours. By the way, Germany’s economic system, at least the way it worked 10–20 years ago, is not capitalism in the American sense; things like the way healthcare is paid for, the job security and the level of social welfare may come as a shock to Americans (or, and here’s where things get dangerous, make them want to implement German policies in the U.S.).

Switching to electric cars may decrease job security, and actually make things worse, in what is (without sarcasm) the best country in the world for the working class.

But both all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids are becoming more and more popular. Introduction of the Tesla Model 3 in Germany certainly changed things. So the German automakers are, too, ramping up production of plug-in vehicles, and the German people are buying them.

Sales in December

Cars total: 283,380 (+19.5% year-over-year)

Plug-in hybrid cars: 5,580 (+197.6% year-over-year)

All-electric cars: 5,748 (+49.8% year-over-year)

4% of all new cars sold were plug-ins. This includes plug-in hybrids (1.97%) and all-electric cars (2.03%).

Note that the term “car” as used here includes all SUVs (unlike in the U.S., where they are classified as light trucks) and at least some passenger vans; it does not include pickup trucks, but they are rare in Germany. Cars, according to this definition, are about 90% of combined car+truck sales in Germany. Very different than in the U.S.

Top sellers — all-electric

  1. Tesla Model 3 — 926 units
  2. Renault Zoe — 780 units
  3. VW e-Golf — 764 units
  4. BMW i3 electric — 625 units
  5. Smart EQ Fortwo — 623 units
  6. Mini Electric — 324 units
  7. Hyundai Kona Electric — 274 units
  8. Smart EQ Forfour — 207 units
  9. Audi e-tron — 182 units
  10. Nissan Leaf — 134 units

The Model 3 took the first place, while the French made Renault Zoe outsold the German made e-Golf.

Sales of the BMW i3 consist almost entirely of the all-electric variant, as the manufacturer is axing the range extender version in Europe. Fortunately, the range extender version — the absolute king of plug-in hybrids when it comes to electric range — will still be available in North America.

We can see quite a lot of all-electric Minis registered, although deliveries to customers have not started yet.

Top sellers — plug-in hybrids (updated)

  1. Mercedes E-Class plug-in hybrid — 964 units
  2. BMW 330e — 529 units
  3. BMW 530e — 472 units
  4. Volkswagen Passat GTE — 468 units
  5. Mercedes C-Class plug-in hybrid — 378 units
  6. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — 376 units
  7. Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid — 355 units
  8. Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid — 312 units
  9. BMW 225xe — 260 units
  10. Porsche Cayenne plug-in hybrid — 253 units

The winner is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class plug-in hybrid, just like in November, even though its sales decreased month-over-month (964 units in December vs. 1,264 in November). It was also the bestselling plug-in vehicle of any kind, outselling the Model 3.

Plug-in variants of the BMW 3 Series and the BMW 5 Series took two other places on the podium. In the top 10 of the PHEVs, there is only one model from a brand that is not German-owned.

Interestingly, in Germany, the bestselling plug-in Audi was the Q5 PHEV and not the all-electric e-tron which was the bestselling plug-in Audi worldwide.


Monthly registrations main page

Total number of registrations

Registrations barometer including registrations by drivetrain types (Kraftstoffarten)

Detailed statistics by make and model

Detailed statistics by make, model and exact drivetrain type



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