The Battle For Germany’s EV Market, Part IV — Tesla Model Y vs. Volkswagen MEB Family

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The overall German auto market had a positive month in April (+13% year over year), with BEVs being the highlight (+34% YoY). There were 29,740 BEV registrations last month, 15% of the overall market. That pulled the market up — quite different from PHEVs, which were down 46%. The latter are now suffering from the end of federal incentives. In April, PHEVs had 11,787 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.

April’s 21% share pulled the year-to-date score to 20% (14% BEV), so a 30% result by year end could be possible.

The 20 Best Selling Electric Vehicles in Germany — April 2023

Tesla was in off-peak mode in April, with the Model Y taking a breath from the crazy results of Q1 and scoring 1,636 registrations, ending the month in 3rd. It was only behind VW’s dynamic duo, the #1 VW ID.4 and #2 VW ID.3.

Highlighting Volkswagen Group’s current all hands on deck attitude in Germany, the German conglomerate placed two additional models in the top 5, the #4 Skoda Enyaq (1,405 units, best result in over two years) and #5 Audi Q4 e-tron. That meant four Volkswagen Group models in April’s top 5. Uncoincidentally, all came from the MEB platform, so it seems the MEB program is (again) resulting in significant dividends for VW.

In another sign of the disruptive and historical times we are living in, there were only two PHEV models in the table — all from the Mercedes stable, with the C-Class PHEV showing up in #8 and the GLC PHEV in #16. Again, not coincidentally, these are two of the few good best PHEVs present on the European market — even without incentives, they remain appealing to customers.

In more proof that Volkswagen Group is at full speed, besides the models in the top 5, the Cupra Born ended April in 9th, thus making it 5 MEB-family models in the top half of the table.

The second half of the table had several models shining, including the Mercedes EQA in #11 and the MG 4 showing up in 12th, an impressive standing for the Chinese-born model (which is becoming a familiar face here). SAIC’s dragon slayer is here to stay. The sharp, angular EV is the most competitive compact model on the market, and a gold standard for present and future compact EVs.

A final note goes out to the presence of two Opel models in April’s table, with the small Corsa EV showing up in #18 with 598 registrations, while its crossover counterpart, the Mokka EV, ended right behind it in #19 with 585 registrations. Both of these scores were year-best results, so does this mean that Opel finally has enough batteries to ramp up production?

Outside the top 20, we had the VW ID.5 (520 registrations) close to a top 20 position. The BMW i4 was closer still, ending the month in #21, just nine units behind the #20 Tesla Model 3 at 574 units. Interestingly enough, that was just 30 units more than the Polestar 2, which makes one wonder if it is flattering for the Polestar 2 to end the month next to the BMW i4 or unflattering for the Beemer to end close to the Polestar EV….

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

Regarding the 2023 table, the Tesla Model Y is well above everyone else, with even double the sales of the runner-up, the VW ID.3. The Tesla crossover had its sales triple YoY, a disruptive performance for a foreign model in German lands — not only in the EV category, but also in the mainstream market.

Still, this impressive performance from the Model Y is only part of the story of the current EV moment in Germany.

Many of the crossover’s sales were made cannibalizing its Model 3 sibling, which is now 5th with 4,776 registrations, or about half of what it had a year ago. Also, Volkswagen Group is playing to its strengths, placing three models (the VW ID.3, VW ID.4, and Audi Q4 e-tron) in the top four positions, all of them experiencing surging sales. The MEB-based models doubled their sales YoY. So, while Tesla is making the best use of its star player, the Model Y, the German OEM is profiting from a long (and strong) lineup of team players.

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), the other German brands are much more modest. Opel is still missing in action, while BMW has just one representative, the compact iX1 in #18. This is far from BMW’s best performances in its home market (the i3 stormtrooper was Germany’s best selling EV in 2014 & 2016) — but even a top 10 position would be a great feat for the new BMW EV crossover.

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

Auto Brands Selling the Most Electric Vehicles in Germany

In the brand ranking, surprise leader Tesla (13.3%) lost ground over #2 Volkswagen (12.8%), but the US make should increase its distance over the German brand again in June, profiting from its end-of-quarter peak.

#3 Mercedes remains comfortable, at 11.8% in April. The three-pointed-star brand currently benefits from a good balance between BEV and PHEV sales. #4 Audi (8.2%) lost contact with Mercedes, but it is significantly ahead of 5th placed BMW (6.7%), which is still suffering from the sales drop from its PHEV lineup and the career end of the BMW i3.

Interestingly, in a similar market concentration trend that is happening in China, the best selling brands are all gaining market share in Germany, with the top four brands increasing their market share YoY.

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 30% share, followed at a distance by Mercedes-Benz (14.6%) and Tesla (13.3%).

Looking closer at Volkswagen Group vs. Tesla growth YoY, we realize that both increased their market share by 6.6% compared to the same period last year. So, yes, Tesla is growing a lot, but so is Volkswagen Group.

Stellantis is 4th, with 9.3% share, rising from 8.9% in February. It is followed by #5 BMW Group (8.9%).

Below them, #6 Hyundai–Kia (6.8%) is the only OEM close enough to hope for a top 5 presence in the near future.

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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 477 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes