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Legacy Combustion Vehicles Drop Below 50% Share In Germany As Plugins Grab Over A Third Of the Market

Europe’s largest auto market, Germany, saw plugin electric vehicles take 34.4% share in November, up from 20.5% a year ago. Full electrics (BEVs) alone took 20.3% share, well ahead of diesel at 15.8% share. Combined legacy combustion powertrains fell below 50% share for the first time. At 198,298 sales, the overall auto market was down some 34% from November 2019.

November’s combined plugin result of 34.4% comprised full battery electrics (BEVs) at 20.3% and plugin hybrids PHEVs at 14.1%. This continues the reweighting towards BEVs seen over the past 4 months, from more even weightings in H1 2021 and throughout 2020.

The cumulative plugin share for 2021 now stands at 25.1% from 12.0% at this point last year. The most recent trailing 3-months have seen combined plugin share of 31.2%, with BEVs alone at 18.2%.

Plugins have now sold 600,222 units year to date, up over 92% from 311,854 units year-on-year. The full year 2021 total should exceed 700,000.

Following the first time in September, BEVs share (20.3%) once again beat diesels, and will very likely stay ahead every month from now on. Petrol had the largest singe share at 33.3%, but at 66,020 units, was down close to half the sales from a year ago (117,220 units).

Legacy combustion powertrains (petrol and diesel without electric assist) fell below 50% for the first time in the modern era, at 49.1%. There’s a slim chance they may briefly see the sunny side of 50% in early 2021, but are on an inevitable falling trend overall.

Plugless hybrid share appears to have plateaued in August and September in the 18% to 19% range, but has fallen back over the past two months to the 15% to 16% range, as PHEVs and BEVs are obviously more favoured.

Best Selling BEVs To End of October

As usual we don’t have model data for November just yet, but we can meanwhile look back over the trailing 3 months to the end of October, to see which BEVs have recently been selling well (repeat — not the up-to-date figures):

As has been the case throughout 2021, the Tesla Model 3 has led the sales charts, with the Volkswagen ID.3 coming in at #2.

The third spot has been a more even race recently, between two compact cars, the Renault Zoe, and VW e-Up!, with the Skoda Enyaq also in the mix.

Shout out to the diminutive and reasonably affordable Smart fortwo in 6th place. Will it be joined by the even more affordable Dacia Spring soon? Judging by October’s deliveries of 421 units for the Spring (already drawing level with the Nissan Leaf’s October volume), that might happen if it can stay on this trajectory. As with most of the best value BEVs, it seems likely that supply (rather than demand) will be the limiting factor for the Spring.

We can expect more recently arriving BEV models, like the Tesla Model Y, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, and soon, the BMW i4 to also climb the charts over the coming months.

Keep an eye out for Jose’s report later in the month to see November’s BEV model rankings.


Breaking the “one third share” barrier is a notable landmark for plugins in Germany. Don’t forget that in November just two years ago, plugins took 3.7% share in the country. For legacy combustion powertrains to fall below 50% is also an important victory against pollution, emissions, and fossil fuel corruption and violence.

December is always a peak month for plugin share, in large part thanks to Tesla continuing to pressure Europe’s legacy auto makers in to action (thanks Tesla), and this year will be no exception. I am expecting close to 40% plugin share in December, and it could be higher still.

What are your thoughts on Germany’s EV market? Please let us know in the comments.

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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, or contact him via LinkedIn.


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