The Battle for Germany’s EV Market, Part II — Tesla Model 3 Called for Duty

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The overall German auto market had a positive month in February (+3% year over year), with BEVs being the highlight (+15% YoY). There were 32,475 BEV registrations last month, 16% of the overall market. That pulled the market up, quite different from diesel (-7%) and especially PHEVs (-45%!), the latter of which are now suffering from the end of federal incentives. In the month, PHEVs had 11,916 registrations, or 5.8% of the total market. Basically, BEVs are becoming the bread and butter of this market, something unthinkable not that long ago.

February’s 22% share pulled the year-to-date score to 19% (13% BEV), so a 30% result by year end seems possible.

The 20 Best Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany — February 2023

Tesla had another great month, with the Model Y winning the February best seller title without any shadow of a doubt, with 6,442 registrations, and even allowing it to end the month in 2nd overall. On the broader auto market, the Model Y only trailed the VW Golf. The surprise was the Model 3 scoring 1,239 registrations, in an off-peak month, allowing it to end the month in 5th. That’s a meritable performance from a model currently suffering from the black hole effect of the Tesla Model Y.

20 Top Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany February 2023 Chart


In another sign of the disruptive and historical times we are living in, there is only one PHEV model in the table — the Mercedes C-Class PHEV showing up in #9. Not coincidentally, it is one of the few good best PHEVs present on the European market.

But Volkswagen Group has also started the year at full speed, placing three models in the top 5 and six representatives in the first 13 positions. Among them, the highlight is once again the “new” Audi Q8 e-tron, with the big, fat SUV ending the month in 4th, with 1,343 registrations. If the Model Y is drying up the competition in the midsize category, the Audi is doing the same in the full size one.

The second half of the table had several foreign models shining, especially those coming from Asia, like Hyundai, which placed three representatives in the lower half of the table. The highlight was the #20 spot of the new Ioniq 6, which got 581 registrations in its first volume month. The streamlined (and Porsche inspired…) sedan was the third musketeer of the brand, along with the veteran Kona EV (16th) and retro-futuristic Ioniq 5 (11th).

Another sign of the disruption era we are living is the fact that the multi-talented MG 4 hatchback showed up for the first time among the best sellers in Germany, with a record 776 registrations, allowing it to be #15. And unlike other model appearances, this doesn’t look to be a fluke. SAIC’s dragon slayer is here to stay. The sharp, angular EV is now the most competitive compact model on the market, and a golden standard for present, and future, compact EVs.

It’s also interesting to see that 12 models out of these top 20 were foreign models. I wonder what Volker Wissing has to say about this….

20 Top Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany February 2023 Table

Outside the top 20, we have the VW ID.5 (527 registrations) close to a top 20 position. The best selling BMW, the recently introduced iX1, wasn’t quite able to secure a top 20 position, ending the month in #21. The compact crossover is currently BMW’s main hope for a table position, because its smaller EV doesn’t suffer from being close to black holes like its older siblings do (Tesla Model Y in the case of the i4 and iX3, and Audi Q8 e-tron, in the case of the iX).

Highlighting the good moment Asian OEMs are having, even Toyota had reasons to celebrate, with its bZ4X SUV scoring a record 464 registrations. Will we see Toyota’s first real effort at a BEV joining the table soon?

The 20 Best Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany — January–February 2023

Regarding the 2023 table, the Tesla Model Y is well above everyone else, tripling the sales of the new runner-up, the VW ID.3, which jumped from 4th to 2nd last month. With the Tesla Model 3 already in 6th, and probably benefitting from a peak performance in March, we might see Tesla winning 1st and 2nd in Germany by the end of the quarter.

20 Top Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany January-February 2023 Chart

Still, Volkswagen Group is also playing to its strengths, placing four models in the top five positions, including a buoyant Audi Q8 e-tron in 3rd! In total, there are 8 Volkswagen Group models in the top 20, including the six-figure Porsche Taycan in #18. So, while Tesla is making the best use of its star players, the German OEM is profiting from a long (and strong) lineup of team players.

20 Top Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany January-February 2023 Table

But, while Volkswagen Group is defending the marbles in its domestic market, and Mercedes also placed three models in the top 20 (or 4 if we count the Smart Fortwo EV), including the only PHEV on the table (#11 Mercedes C-Class PHEV), the other German brands … are missing in action.

While Opel has the excuse of its BEVs transitioning to the new Stellantis BEV powertrain, the reason why BMW doesn’t have one model on the table … is complicated. There is the end of PHEV incentives, which created a massive hangover in the PHEV portion of the market. Further, midsize and full size BEV models are losing sales to more attractive models. And the compact iX1 is still in ramp-up mode. This last one is actually BMW’s best hope at having a model in the top 20. Will we see it rise to the occasion in March?

But back to the YTD table, a year ago, we had six PHEVs in the table, whereas now the tally is reduced to one. #Incentivesmatter

Auto Brands Selling the Most Electric Vehicles in Germany

Auto Brands Selling the Most Electric Vehicles in Germany

In the brand ranking, surprise leader Tesla (17.3%, up from 17.1%) increased its lead over #2 Volkswagen, which was down from 13.4% to 12.6%.

#3 Mercedes had a positive month, rising from 11.5% to 11.9% in February. The three-pointed-star brand could start thinking about putting pressure on runner-up Volkswagen soon. Off the podium, #4 Audi (9.1%) lost contact with Mercedes, but it is significantly ahead of 5th placed BMW (5.7%).

Interestingly, if we take out leader Tesla from the equation, the top 4 positions in the plugin ranking perfectly mirror the top 4 sellers in the overall market, highlighting the fact that the plugin and the overall market continue to merge. (Tesla is the 8th best selling brand in the overall ranking.)

Auto Groups Selling the Most Electric Vehicles in Germany

Auto Groups Selling the Most Electric Vehicles in Germany

Looking at the rankings by OEM, Volkswagen Group has its domestic market well in hand, with 32% share, followed at a distance by Tesla (17.3%) and Mercedes-Benz (14.1%).

Stellantis is 4th, with 8.9%, rising from 6.8% in January, followed from a safe distance by #5 BMW Group (7.7%, up from 6.4%).

Below them, #6 Hyundai–Kia (5.5%) and #7 Geely–Volvo (4.9%) await an opportunity to climb into the top 5.

See all of our previous Germany EV sales reports.

Also see other EV sales reports on CleanTechnica.

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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