Shocking Electric Car Takes #1 In Germany’s April 2018 Electric Car Sales Ranking

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PEV Fever has definitely caught on in Germany, with April signaling 5,700 registrations, a 61% increase year over year (YoY). As a result, the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) share climbed to 2.2% of the broader passenger vehicle market.

But more important than the plug-in niche are the seismic changes happening in the fuel mix of the mainstream market: Diesel sales continue to sink (-13%) YoY, to the benefit of all other fuels. Regular gasoline-powered cars are up 19%, while alternative fuels are jumping ahead, with the highlights being CNG (up five-fold) and fully electric cars (+124%). Additionally, conventional hybrid electric vehicles have also grown significantly (+70%), plug-in electric vehicles have grown (+21%), and, hell, even LPG had reasons to smile (+11%). Diesel was left as the sole loser, with a market share of only 33% — far, far from regular gasoline cars (62%). At this pace, diesel sales will be dead in das diesel Vaterland by 2021–2022. Could someone imagine this four years ago?

Top Selling Plug-In Vehicles

Back to plug-in vehicle sales, count on the German PEV market to always deliver surprises, and April was no exception. The best selling model last month was the … Kia Soul EV (721 units). Even if most Soul EV units end up in Norway (it wouldn’t be the first time), this was the best performance for the Kia in 28 months. [Editor’s note: Full disclosure: The author, Jose Pontes, owns a Kia Soul EV, so maybe he’s just cooking the books.]

The Korean was followed by three other fully electric cars, while in 5th place we have another weird surprise — the Mercedes E350e registered its third consecutive record performance, reaching 316 units in April. It seems local taxi drivers are getting into (PH)EVs…

Model April Sales  
1 Kia Soul EV 721
2 BMW i3 491
3 VW e-Golf 456
4 Renault Zoe 422
5 Mercedes E350e 316

In a traditionally fragmented market where the leader has only 8% share, the race for #1 now has five models separated by only 300 units. The current leader, the Smart Fortwo ED, continues losing precious ground to its followers, while the Kia Soul EV is the one that has the most reasons to be happy — not only recovering significant ground related to the leadership, but also managing to surpass the BMW i3 and reach 4th place.

April had plenty of changes, along with the aforementioned Kia Soul EV’s rise, VW plug-in hybrids had a great month, with the  #6 Golf GTE and the #7 Passat GTE both jumping two places and the Golf PHEV actually becoming the new best selling PHEV.

The Mercedes E350e also rose two positions, to #10, becoming the best selling premium-class model on the list, well ahead of its direct competitor, the BMW 530e. The 530e, nevertheless, also had a brilliant month, delivering a record 152 units and allowing it to climb two positions to #17.

But the model with the highest climb in the ranking was the new Nissan LEAF, leaping 5 positions to #13. A top 10 position might not be that far off into the horizon.

On the other hand, last year’s best selling PHEV, the Audi A3 e-Tron, despite climbing two positions in April, is still pretty far back — sitting in #18. It has seen its sales sink 67% YoY. That’s how dynamic this market is…

“Well, what about Tesla?” — you might ask.

Speaking of a dynamic market, things are quite different for the automaker in 2018. Currently, the Model S is only #16, far from the #8 spot it ended in last year, and even farther from the #5 of 2016, which is still its highest standing in Germany. Having scored 544 deliveries in 2018, sales are now down 35% compared to the same period of 2017, possibly due to the Model 3’s long shadow. As for the Model X, deliveries are even worse — with 227 units registered so far, registrations are down 40% YoY. Are the upcoming fully electric German SUVs (Audi e-Tron, Mercedes EQ C…) damaging Tesla’s SUV demand? One thing is certain, Tesla needs to do something here, especially considering that this market is on the fast lane (+70% in 2018), having already surpassed Norway as the largest plug-in electric vehicle market in Europe.

Germany April YTD PEV Market Share (YTD)
1 Smart Fortwo ED 254 1,947 8%
2 VW e-Golf 456 1,905 8%
3 Renault Zoe 422 1,719 7%
4 Kia Soul EV 721 1,668 7%
5 BMW i3 491 1,620 7%
6 VW Golf GTE 259 1,113 5%
7 VW Passat GTE 233 1,066 5%
8 Smart Forfour ED 175 1,058 5%
9 BMW 225xe Active Tourer 88 943 4%
10 Mercedes E350e 316 813 4%
11 Porsche Panamera PHEV 175 665 3%
12 Mercedes GLC350e 123 645 3%
13 Nissan Leaf 279 636 3%
14 Kia Niro PHEV 132 594 3%
15 Mercedes C350e 165 589 3%
16 Tesla Model S 71 544 2%
17 BMW 530e 152 506 2%
18 Audi A3 e-Tron 181 492 2%
19 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 104 467 2%
20 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 96 455 2%
Others 816 3,688 16%
TOTAL 5,709 23,133 100%

As far as the manufacturer ranking, Volkswagen is stable in the leadership position, with 19% market share, while 2017 winner BMW is in 2nd place, with 16% share. Third place Smart (13%, down 2 percentage points) is losing steam charge and watching its immediate competitors (Kia and Mercedes, both with 11%) get closer.

Regarding the BEV/PHEV share, BEVs are slowly but surely winning an edge over PHEVs. In April, all-electric vehicles had 54% of all plug-in sales, pulling their YTD lead up to 52%.

Plug-ins + Regular Hybrids

Model April Sales  
1 Toyota C-HR Hybrid 1,230
2 Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1,102
3 Toyota Auris Hybrid 906
4 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 753
5 Kia Soul EV 721

Unlike the PEV market, always filled with surprises, the regular Hybrid market is owned by Toyota, collecting the Top 4 positions, with the Best Selling Plug-in being only Fifth, 500 units behind the leader Yaris Hybrid.

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José Pontes

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewed the sales evolution of plug-ins on the EV Sales blog, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is also market analyst on EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

José Pontes has 473 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes