2016 (Q3) Germany: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Volkswagen sales in Germany were down during the first three quarters of 2016 but VW remained the top-selling car brand and the Golf the favorite model.

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany increased to just over 2.5 million (up 6.1%) during the first nine months of 2016. With the exception of Volkswagen and Seat, all the top-20 best-selling car brands in Germany increased sales in 2016.

The German Car Market in 2016 (Q1-3)

New passenger vehicle (PKW) registrations in Germany increased by 6.1% to 2,555,783 cars sold during the first three quarters of 2016. The total new motorized vehicle market grew by 6.4% to 3,002,621 vehicles. The sale of heavy goods vehicles (LKW) increased by a strong 12% and buses by 14%.

As before, electric cars are struggling to find buyers in Germany. In September 2016, sales of electric cars were up 76.6% to 1,641 cars but for the first nine months of 2016, the total comes to a rather embarrassingly low 7,678 cars. This figure includes all electric cars registered for the first time for use on German roads, i.e. also research and promotion vehicles. The German press also continues to speculate that many electric cars are registered only briefly in Germany for tax purposes before being exported second hand to more promising markets in neighboring countries.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Germany in 2016 (Q1-Q3)

New passenger vehicle registration data released by the KBA showed the following were the top-selling car marques in Germany during the period January to September 2016:

BrandQ1-3/2016% Share%Change
Total Sales2,555,783100.06.1
26Land Rover17,2530.728.8
31Alfa Romeo3,0390.141.0

Top-Selling Car Brands in Germany in 2016 (Q1-3)

Only five major car manufacturers failed to increase sales in Germany in 2016 compared to the first nine months of 2015. This select group included Germany鈥檚 largest carmaker Volkswagen, Sales or market leader Volkswagen were down by 1%, or just over 5,000 cars, while the total new car market grew by nearly 100,000 cars. Volkswagen鈥檚 market share thus slipped from 21.4% to a still substantial 20% of the German new car market.

There were hardly any changes in the relative rank positions of the top 20 best-selling car brands in Germany during the first three quarters of 2016 compared to a year ago. Mixed fortunes for the French and Korean manufacturers: Renault overtook Hyundai while Kia overtook Peugeot. Smart was the worst performer of the German brands and slipped out of the top 20 list.

A few further salient features from the sales statistics of new cars in Germany thus far in 2016:

  • The most-improved brands were Jaguar (70%), Ssangyong (47%), Alfa Romeo (41%), and Lexus (41%). Honda sales were up by nearly a third.
  • Of the top-10 brands, Renault was the most improved while Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi also had double-digit increases.
  • Only five brands sold fewer cars than last year: DS (-22%), Smart (-5%), Seat (-1%), VW (-1%) and Suzuki (-0.2%).
  • Although VW lost 1.4% market share in a growing market, VW still sold more cars than second-placed Mercedes-Benz and third-placed Audi combined, or Opel, Ford and Skoda combined.

Top 20 Best-Selling Car Models in Germany in 2016 (Q1-3)

The 20 most popular car models in Germany during the first three quarters of 2016 according to the KBA were:

Rank 2015Rank 2016CarQ3/2016Q1-3/2015
11VW GOLF188,141205,951
22VW PASSAT62,99072,410
43VW POLO53,39450,838
34MERCEDES C-CLASS51,44352,661
85AUDI A4, S4, RS449,37142,093
96OPEL ASTRA48,62442,035
67VW TIGUAN46,81943,843
58AUDI A3, S3, RS346,25644,356
79SKODA OCTAVIA43,95743,676
1010OPEL CORSA42,18939,480
11VW TOURAN41,99026,264
1512BMW 2ER39,65032,838
1313SKODA FABIA38,01433,214
1114FORD FOCUS37,02638,597
1815SEAT LEON35,67431,546
1417BMW 1 SERIES33,16333,043
1718BMW 3 SERIES32,98631,872
1619AUDI A6, S6, RS632,29832,752
20VW TRANSPORTER31,59825,608

The Volkswagen Golf easily remained Germany鈥檚 favorite car model followed by the VW Passat. However, both models sold noticeably fewer cars than a year ago. Golf sales were down 8.6% – a major model update has been announced for November 2016. Sales of the more profitable Passat were down 13%.

In contrast, the aging VW Polo increased sales to regain third place from the Mercedes-Benz C Class. The newer Audi A4 and Opel Astra both moved up positions with stronger sales while the VW Tiguan, Audi A3, and Skoda Octavia all slipped down the rankings despite higher sales. The Opel Corsa maintained its tenth place.

The only new entries in the top 20 list were the VW Touran – at 11 after the introduction of a new model – and the VW Transporter minibus. The two cars slipping out of the top 20 from a year ago were the Ford Fiesta (15 to 21) and the VW Up (20 to 23).

Germany’s favorite imported car model was again the Skoda Octavia. The best-selling foreign branded car not owned by a German manufacturer was the Fiat 500 (26th most popular model).

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.