Germany — World’s 4th Largest Auto Market — Now Above 17.5% Plugin Electric Vehicle Share!

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October saw Germany further accelerate the electric transport revolution, with over 17.5% of auto sales being plugin electric vehicles. This is a lightning fast transition from the 3% share of 2019, defying all conventional expectations of the speed of disruption.

Let’s contextualize this record result to appreciate its significance. This time a year ago, the October 2019 result was an already shocking 4.1% plugin market share. And yet, just 12 months later, we’re now over 4x that result and climbing rapidly.

Even the most bullish of conventional cleantech transition forecasters, BNEF, predicted just 6 months ago that Europe would see only 3.75% plugin market share in 2020. Well, Germany is by far the largest regional auto market in Europe (almost a quarter of Europe’s total volume) and is now passing 17.5% in the month of October, and almost 11% for the year’s cumulative tally.

The other large markets of France and the UK are not far behind, and several smaller European markets are even further ahead. Those former predictions of 3.75% were a universe away from what is now materializing; Europe is comfortably on track to finish above 10% — perhaps closer to 11% — plugin market share for 2020 overall.

Back to Germany’s October result. The 17.5% share comprised 8.4% pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 9.1% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This proportion is on trend with the cumulative year-to-date results of 5.25% BEV and 5.65% PHEVs (10.9% combined).

Popular BEV models in October were in line with September’s results, with the Renault ZOE continuing to break records with an outstanding 5014 unit sales, alone comprising almost 22% of Germany’s BEV market. The ZOE’s year to date tally in Germany is now over 20,000 units.

Renault Zoe Press ImageRenault Zoe. Image courtesy Renault.

Although detailed model data is not yet available, the #2 spot was almost certainly a contest between the Volkswagen ID.3 newcomer and the ever popular Hyundai Kona EV, both delivering monthly sales in the neighbourhood of 1500 to 2000 units. The Tesla Model 3, which holds the #3 position in the cumulative 2020 race, did not see a Germany shipment arrive in October, but we know that a batch from Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory will arrive in November.

Other popular 2020 BEV models in Germany include the VW E-Golf, the VW E-Up!, the Audi e-tron, Smart fortwo, BMW i3, and Opel Corsa-e. All these BEVs have already proven themselves capable of delivering close to 1,000 units per month (or more) in Germany. Keep an eye out for Jose’s report later in the month for more detailed October model results.

Volkswagen ID.3. Image courtesy Volkswagen

The Renault Twingo electric has just had a big first month in France, and is starting German deliveries in November. It will surely benefit from the pathway already blazed by its brand sibling, the ZOE.

How now to consider the full year 2020 result? We saw just last month that respected German automotive institute, the center for automotive management, had predicted a 2020 full year result of around 10.7% market share. Well, that’s now blown out of the water, with 10.9% already in the bag.

As a reminder, September already showed a record monthly result of 15.6%. Now October shows a 17.5% result. There can be no reasonable doubt that the months November and December will also see very strong plugin results, certainly over 15% — might 20% even be possible in one of the remaining months?

Either way, inevitably strong results in the last two months of the year will further increase Germany’s cumulative 2020 tally. In last month’s report I said “I would guesstimate that a share of over 11% and perhaps closer to 12% is possible for the full year.” That now looks conservative — it’s possible that over 12% could be the final result.

2021 will see the arrival in Germany of the Tesla Model Y, the VW ID.4, the BMW iX3 amongst many other BEVs and PHEVs. All will prove extremely popular in Germany. Could we see some months reaching 30% plugin market share in 2021?

A year ago – with cumulative share standing at 2.9% — monthly results of 30% might have seemed totally unrealistic for 2021. Now it seems perfectly possible, even likely. What do you think? Please jump in to the comments below to share your thoughts and predictions.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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