Tesla Model 3 Wins in Germany in March, but Volkswagen Brand Leads the Way in 2021

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The German plugin vehicle market scored over 65,000 registrations last month, with both technologies rising fast year over year (YoY), particularly plugin hybrids (+191% for BEVs and +278% for PHEVs). As a result, last month’s plugin vehicle share in Germany ended at 23% (10% BEV), slightly pulling up the yearly tally to 22% (9.9% BEV). So, this market sits firmly in The Disruption Zone.

Despite a rebounding overall market (+36% YoY), petrol failed to profit much from it (+7% YoY), while diesel is helplessly in a hell hole (-5%), continuing to fall even in the context of a recovering market.

Looking at last month’s best sellers, in March we had a surprise winner, with the Tesla Model 3 beating its Volkswagen arch rival, the … e-Up! Wait, what?!?

Yep, by registering 3,599 units in March, its second record performance in a row(!), the veteran model* not only put to shame its larger siblings, namely the #5 Volkswagen ID.3, but was close (it ended just 100 units behind) to stealing the thunder from a record-setting Tesla Model 3! (*Volkswagen’s city car has been on the market for 10 years now, and its EV version has existed since 2013.)

Prost for the tiny EV, which is still my favorite Volkswagen, as it is the closest we have to the original Volkswagen Beetle: cheap, no-frills, and reliable transportation for das Volk.

Photo by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica

In the 3rd spot, we have another surprise, with the Hyundai Kona EV returning to form and getting a record 3,237 registrations, banking on its competitive km of range per euro score to win its first monthly podium position since November.

Below the podium’s top sellers, 4th place went to another record setting Volkswagen, with the new Golf PHEV winning the best seller award in the PHEV category with 2,792 registrations. Last year’s best seller, the Renault Zoe, had to settle with 8th spot, with the French hatchback failing to follow the pace of the Model 3 and the Volkswagen armada that followed it.

The Mini Cooper EV jumped to 9th, thanks to a record 1,674 deliveries, thus making it 7 BEVs in the top 9, but below that, it’s a sea of PHEVs. The only exception is the #16 BMW i3, which reflects one of the current market trends — while the BEV market is concentrated (almost completely) in half a dozen models, the model choice in the plugin hybrid field is far greater and spans a much wider type of customer and needs, leading to a more diversified market.

One example is the fact that the Volkswagen Golf PHEV’s cousin models are also present in the top 20 (Audi A3 in #12, Seat Leon PHEV in #18, and Skoda Octavia in #19), while the Volkswagen ID.3 MEB platform siblings are still in different stages of production ramp-up (Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq), just being presented (Audi Q4 e-tron), or still under wraps (Seat/Cupra El-Born). So, if a Volkswagen Galaxy EV buyer wants something more practical than the ID.4, it will have to wait a couple more months for the Skoda Enyaq. But that’s still better than the story for premium addicts, which will have to wait for the second half of this year for the Audi Q4 e-tron, while those who want something more spicy than the regular Volkswagen flavor will have to wait for the last months of 2021, at best, to have their Seat/Cupra EV. This kind of availability issue does not happen on the PHEV field.

This exercise can be replicated with a number of other OEMs. True BEV takeover of the market will only be possible when pure-electric model choice is nearly as complete as PHEV or ICE model choice. No one-size-fits-all recipe will work, whether some people like it or not.

Outside this top 20, a mention goes out to the continuous ramp-up of the Fiat 500e, now at 748 units, and two other models are also ramping up their deliveries, with the Opel Mokka EV now at 526 deliveries and the Volkswagen Tiguan PHEV at 548 deliveries.

Regarding the 2021 table, we now have the tiny Volkswagen e-Up on top, with a sizable distance (1,229 units) over the rising Tesla Model 3, relegating the previous leader, the Volkswagen ID.3, to 3rd. We were expecting more, ID.3….

Another model on the rise was the Hyundai Kona EV, up two spots to 4th, while the Volkswagen Passat PHEV climbed to #6, thus making it 4 Volkswagens in the top 6.

In the second half of the table, the Mercedes E300e/de jumped three spots, to #11, and is now the only full size model in the table.

Highlighting the good moment of the Volkswagen Group, besides the Volkswagen models in the top 20, we should mention the Audi A3 PHEV jumping from #20 to #15 last month, and its Czech and Spanish cousins joining the table — with the Skoda Octavia PHEV jumping to #18 and the Seat Leon PHEV to #20.

But these weren’t the only new faces on the table, as the Mercedes A250e re-joined the table, in #16, while the Mini Cooper EV slalomed its way through a forest of PHEVs to end the month in #17.

In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (18%, down 1 point) is clearly leading its home market, followed by Mercedes (11%, up 1 point) and BMW (9%), while #4 Audi (7%, down 1 point) is not too far away.

Further behind, Hyundai and Renault, both with 5% share, seem unable to threaten the grip that the local heroes have on the German plugin market

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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