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Germany’s Plugin EV Share Jumps Above 30% — An Unstoppable Force

Germany, the world’s 5th largest auto market, and Europe’s largest, saw plugin electric vehicles take 30.4% of new sales in October, up almost 1.75× year-on-year. Full electrics grew mostly strongly, up over 2× YoY, taking 17.1% share. The overall auto market was down some 36% from 2019 levels, at 178,683 units.

October’s combined plugin share of 30.4%, a new record, comprised 17.1% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 13.3% plugin hybrids (PHEVs), a continuing shift towards BEVs from recent weightings. The cumulative 2021 plugin share now stands at 24.2%, over double the 10.9% at this point in 2020.

Diesels had a temporary respite from their years of decline in October, managing just to outdo BEVs in share for one last month, having been overtaken by BEVs for the first time ever in September. This won’t last of course, and BEVs will almost certainly exceed diesel again, and on a permanent basis, from November and December onwards.

Petrol share declined from 42.1%  one year ago, to 36.2% in October 2021.  Although diesel has been taking the brunt of the losses from growing plugins, obviously when diesel falls almost entirely out of the way (sub 10%) in the next year or so, petrol will start to quickly take those hits. We can expect to see petrol’s decline curve become more visible toward the end of 2022.

Recently Popular BEVs

As usual, we don’t yet have the KBA government data for October’s model sales. It will come later in the month, so keep your eyes open for Jose’s update report.

We do have gross brand sales data, so can quantify the sales for those brands that only sell BEVs. Smart sold 2,758 units in October, almost 40% up from September, dominated by the Fortwo (around 75% of its sales). This should put the Fortwo comfortably in the top 5 bestselling BEVs for October, perhaps even in the top 3.

Tesla sold 1,469 units in October, relatively thin due to a low-to-no shipment month, and Polestar sold 311 units (same volume as last month), almost all the Polestar 2.

Whilst we don’t yet have the full updated brand data for October, let’s take a step back and see which models have “recently” been doing well in the trailing quarter ending in September. Note again — *not the up-to-date figures*:

Not yet making it onto the above list are important newcomers like the Kia EV6, the BMW iX (and soon, BMW i4). There’s also the Mercedes EQS which has recently started deliveries, but is destined to remain a low volume vehicle given its high price point.

For now, VW Group’s MEB platform is dominating, but is not all that far ahead of combined sales of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y. Expect the Tesla Model Y to quickly climb into the top 5 spots once shipments are regularized, and help Tesla’s mid sizers challenge the MEB platform.

Of course, once the Tesla Berlin Gigafactory gets rolling next year, the Model Y could potentially challenge for the very top and VW’s MEB platform could find itself on the back foot. Likely VW has plans to continuing ramping volumes — it will be an interesting race to watch.

It would be good to see BMW at least trying to compete with Tesla; their iX and i4 appear to be very good vehicles (as is the iX3), but they simply haven’t lined up the production volume (at least in the near term) to really have a huge impact.

Outlook

To see plugins jumping above 30% for the first time is a great milestone for Germany. Remember that this is extremely rapid progress from where Germany was just 2 years ago. In October 2019, the plugin share was “just” 4.1% share, so we’ve seen almost 5× growth in share over 24 months.

Historically, November has sometimes shown growth over October, and sometimes a fractional drop, but I would expect with folks now less and less keen to buy combustion vehicles, November will remain above 30%.

December is going to see a decent step up again, with several of the newer BEVs mentioned above starting to come online in needle-moving volumes. I’m still expecting plugin share push to above 35% in December, perhaps even touching 40%.

What do you think we will see in the final months of this year? Please lend us your thoughts in the comments section.

 
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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. 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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