Full Electrics Overtake Diesel In Germany — Record Plugin EV Share Nears 30%

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Germany, Europe’s largest auto market, saw plugin electric vehicle market share of 28.7% in September 2021, up almost 2x year-on-year. Full electrics alone took 17.1% of the market, overtaking diesel’s share (15.9%) for the first time. The overall auto market, at 196,972 units, was down around 20% from the same month in 2019 (pre-COVID). VW Group strongly dominated EV sales.

August’s combined plugin result of 28.7% comprised 17.1% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 11.6% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This is a continuing shift toward BEVs from recent months. PHEVs have been flat over the past 10 months, staying consistently close to 12% share, whilst BEVs have been climbing. In September 2020, BEVs took 8% of the market, so have more than doubled their share over the intervening 12 months.

Germany’s 2021 cumulative plugin share now stands at 23.7%, over double the 10.0% of a year ago. BEVs’ record 17.1% share put them ahead of diesels for the first time in the modern era, with the latter only taking 15.9% of the market (from 25.6% a year ago).

Petrols’ share has remained stubbornly flat over the past 10 months, fluctuating around 36% to 39% share. This will change in December, when plugins will have their seasonal blowout peak.

Recently Popular BEVs

We don’t yet have the KBA government data for September’s model sales, this will come later in the month, so be on the lookout for Jose’s update report.

We do have gross brand sales data for September (though not split by powertrain), so for those brands which are BEV only, we can report: Tesla sold 7903 units, Smart sold 2043, and Polestar sold 311.

Though we don’t yet have good detail on September’s full array of models, let’s take a step back and remind ourselves of the performance of popular models over the trailing 3 months up to the end of August. This timescale removes monthly peak-trough effects (looking at you Tesla) and shows who’s been recently doing well. Repeat – *not the up-to-date figures*:

Tesla’s logistics peakyness is such that they sold slightly more units in September than in the previous 3 months combined.

In fact, if we just look at July-August-September, Tesla delivered 70% of it’s Q3 volume in September alone (though less crazy than the 93% weighing that September represented for Tesla’s UK Q3 sales). In addition to the evergreen Tesla Model 3, we can assume a large shipment of Tesla Model Y also got delivered to German customers in September.

The other manufacturers tend to deliver in more stable volumes, and steadily growing. As a rule of thumb, assume most (already established) models delivered between a third and a half of their trailing 3 months volume again in September. More recently introduced models will of course be ramping faster.

When we take a step back and look at automotive groups by volume over the trailing 3 months (to August), Tesla’s overall German volumes don’t stand out quite as much. The trailing 3 month total BEV volume was 87,744, and VW group took over 35% of the total!

Stellantis came in 2nd place with 13.6%, Hyundai Motor Group 3rd with 11%, and Renault-Nissan just behind with 10.3%. Tesla came in fifth (still well ahead of Mercedes and BMW groups), with 10%.  Now that the Tesla Model Y is delivering, it is likely that Tesla will climb into 3rd place by the end of the year.

Stellantis should be able to continue scaling up BEV volumes, having committed to favour BEV production over ICE production in the face of any chip constraints. The Fiat 500e, Opel Corsa, and Opel Mokka are all doing very well for Stellantis in the German market.

Hyundai Motor Group are doing well mainly thanks to the continuing popularity of the Hyundai Kona, now bolstered by the new Hyundai Ioniq 5, and with the Kia Niro still doing fairly well (only a fraction outside the top 20 rank above). The Kia EV6 needs to arrive soon and bolster their position.

VW Group are of course the 500 pound gorilla of the German market, both with several notable BEV models in the top ranks (4 in the top 7), and also backed up by a wide array of other models across many different price points. It’s hard to compete with that breadth of offerings.


The transition is now accelerating in earnest in Germany. Historically, September is exceeded further by the final months of the year, and this year will likely follow on trend.

With September already at 28.7%, I would estimate that all Q4 months will be above 30%, and December will almost certainly be above 40%, with 25-30% of that total being BEVs.

What are your predictions for Germany’s EV transition going forward? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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