Germany Hits 21.7% Plugin Share In January — Up Over 3× Year-on-Year

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Germany, Europe’s largest auto market, hit 21.7% plugin electric vehicle share in January, up over 3× from January 2021. This is already substantially above 2020’s breakout annual share of 13.5% and not far off December’s extraordinary peak of 26.6%. Overall auto sales volumes were down 31% in January 2021, with petrol combustion vehicles dropping more than 50% in volume year-on-year.

This time last year we were marvelling at Germany’s then-remarkable 6.5% January 2020 plugin share result, especially when compared to the previous January 2019 (2.5%), amounting to 2.6× growth in share year-on-year. A year further on and we’re looking at even stronger growth, up over 3.3× to 21.7%.

January’s plugin share in Germany is typically somewhere between the previous full year share (13.5% in 2020) and the previous December peak (26.6%), and January 2021 is no exception. January also typically draws a baseline (or near to baseline) for later months of the year, so to be seeing 21.7% already at this stage bodes well for the remainder of 2021.

January 2021’s combined 21.7% plugin share comprised plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at 12.1% and full battery electrics (BEVs) at 9.6%, which roughly matches the relative weighting in January 2020.

Old-school plugless hybrids also had decent 62% year-on-year growth in share, and thus combustion-only powertrains took a big hit. Petrol-only engines fell 50.3% in unit volume and diesel-only fell 44.8%.

BEV Models — Scant Data So Far

We don’t yet have much BEV model data for January, since industry body the KBA releases such data later on.

We do know some of the brand data, and can say that plugin-only brands Tesla and Polestar had relatively slow months (453 and 136 sales, respectively), and Smart (also BEV only) had 1833 units, somewhat down from its December peak. Here’s a reminder of December’s leading plugin models:

We have to assume that the Volkswagen ID.3 and Renault ZOE were once again duelling for the BEV lead in January, and that the Hyundai Kona and Volkswagen ID.4 were up there also. We will need to wait till later in the month to get the hard data (look out for Jose’s reports).

Despite not yet having model results for January, there’s no doubt that the Volkswagen MEB platform siblings will both play a major role in boosting BEV volumes in Germany this year.

Volkswagen ID.3 & ID.4. Image courtesy of Volkswagen.

As I mentioned above, on the basis of recent years of monthly data, we know that market share for plugins tends to draw close to a baseline in January compared to the growth trend later in the year. The magnitude of any given year’s growth usually starts to manifest in the rate of uptick in July through September.

For January 2021 to be already recording a plugin share of 21.7% bodes very well for the outlook this year — although, it’s obviously early days yet. What are you expectations for plugin growth in Germany this year? Is a 30% annual result possible? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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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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