September saw plugin EVs take 21% share in Germany, predictably down from 32.3% year on year, as a hangover from new incentive cuts. This is the flip-side of August’s large pull-forward, and fully expected. Overall auto volume was 224,502 units, unchanged YoY, and roughly in line with pre-2020 seasonal averages. The Tesla Model Y was the bestselling EV.
September’s combined results saw plugin EVs take 21% share in Germany, with full electrics (BEVs) at 14.1%, and plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at 6.9%. These compare with YoY figures of 32.3%, with 19.7% BEV, and 12.6% PHEV.
September’s uncommonly low result was a widely expected “hangover” consequence of the huge pull-forward in August. That August pull-forward was ahead of a long-announced incentive cut for company buyers from September 1st, and we discussed this likely resulting hangover in August’s report.
As also mentioned in last month’s report, this is not the end of the affair. January 1st 2024 will bring even more incentive cuts, so we can expect yet another pull-forward and resulting big hangover straddling that transition.
Let’s look at unit volumes to get a sense of the size of the BEV hangover. In the past 3 years, Germany’s September BEV volumes have been in the range of 20% to 33% higher than August volumes. This year however September volumes were 63% lower than August volumes, at just 31,714 units.
If we look at the sum of the August and September volumes however, BEVs are still up some 55% YoY.
Year to date, combined combustion-only powertrains stand at 52.6% share, down from 54.7% YoY. Considering the volatility caused by plugin incentive changes this year, and the ~90,000 unit shortfall in PHEV sales YTD, that’s not a bad result:
The Tesla Model Y was Germany’s bestselling BEV in September, with 3,021 units registered, ahead of the Opel Corsa (2,175 units), and Fiat 500e (1,785 units).
Across 2023 year to date, the Model Y has taken the monthly top spot six times already, and is the cumulative bestseller (38,608 units). Its cumulative volume is some 32% more than the next highest seller (Volkswagen ID.4 / ID.5).
The Opel Corsa, in 3rd, and the 4th placed Opel Mokka, both strongly outperformed in terms of rank, thanks to not dropping September volume as much as the BEV average. The Corsa and Mokka have YTD average ranks of #12 and #18 respectively.
Further down September’s top 20, the same was true of the Mercedes EQE, and Peugeot 208 — both had close to 50% more volume than their recent monthly average and climbed strongly as a result. The EQE had a particularly strong result in grabbing 9th spot, where its YTD cumulative volume rank is only 24th.
Let’s look at the 3 month trailing results to get a better handle on which models are consistently strong recently:
Here the Volkswagen ID.4 / ID.5 takes the lead, just ahead of the Tesla Model Y, a reversal of their positions in the April-to-June period. As mentioned above, the Tesla is still 32% ahead of the VW on 2023 YTD volume.
The Fiat 500e takes the third spot, and most of the rest of the top 10 are minor shuffles. The exceptions are Opel Corsa taking 7th (up from 18th previously), and Dacia Spring in 8th (from 21st previously).
Shout out also to the Jeep Avenger, which just made it into the top 20 for the first time, having only debuted on the Germany market in May.
Let’s now have a brief look at the manufacturing group performances:
Here Volkswagen Group has a strong lead, from Stellantis, both in the same positions as they were 3 months prior. Stellantis has gained substantial ground on Volkswagen Group, however. Stellantis now holds 17.1% share from 12.7% prior. Volkswagen Group has dropped to 25.6% share, from 30.1% prior.
Hyundai group, which was hampered by model refreshes in the prior period (6th spot), has now recovered to a decent third place, with 10.8% share of the BEV market.
Mercedes group is static in 4th, though has shed 1.7% share of the market since the prior period, now at 9.9% share.
Tesla had a relatively weak 3 months, in 5th spot and 9.1% share of the BEV market. This is down from 3rd, and 12.6% share, in the prior period.
The flat volume of overall auto sales YoY comes in the context of a shrinking German economy. Latest economic figures show a negative 0.2% GDP annual growth rate, an inflation rate of 4.5%, and an interest rate of 4.5%. Manufacturing PMI in September was fairly stable over August, at a weak rate of 39.6 points. Except for peak-covid, this is the lowest PMI since 2009.
Nonetheless, the EV transition still has relative tailwinds. Road fuel prices are close to a 30 year high (still over €2 per litre), whereas electricity prices have come down from the 2022 peaks to close to 2018-2021 levels. This means that the total-cost-of-ownership advantage of plugins, and especially BEVs — compared to ICE vehicles — are significant for those buyers in a position to take a long term view of their spending, or on a long term lease.
To illustrate: With a typical passenger vehicle’s lifetime odometer of 250,000 km or more, at an average 7.5 litres per 100 km, a combustion vehicle can expect to cost at least €37,500 in fuel alone, at current prices. Equivalent energy cost in a BEV (assuming 180 wh/km) at current household prices (€0.39 / kWh) is less than half that, at €17,550, a saving of some €20,000 over the vehicle’s life. Note that Germany has close to the most expensive electricity rates in the world — the savings in other regions can be much greater.
This is ultimately why electricity powered vehicles are inevitable – they do the same task for significantly less overall cost, because they are inherently more energy efficient. German car buyers are increasingly aware of these savings, and – whatever the ups and downs in overall auto market volume – EVs will continue to grow share over time.
What do you think of Germany’s transition to EVs? Please join in the discussion in the comments below.
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