2018 (Full Year) Germany: Best-Selling Electric Car Brands and Models

In 2018, the top-selling electric car brands in Germany were Volkswagen narrowly ahead of Renault and Smart with the Zoe, VW Golf and Smart Fortwo the favorite electric car models.

December 2018: Renault was the top-selling electric car brand in Germany followed by Volkswagen. Audi was the surprising third largest electric carmaker in Germany in December 2018 followed by BMW and Smart. The favorite car electric car models were the Renault Zoe, VW Golf and BMW i3. During the full calendar year 2018, only 1.05% of new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany were electric cars but electric cars took a record 1.62% market share in December 2018.

Electric Car Market in Germany in 2018 (Full Year)

During the full calendar year 2018, only 36,062 new electric passenger vehicles were registered in Germany for the first time, or a market share of only 1,05% of the total German new car market compared to 25,056 and a market share of 0.7% during 2017. The total number of electric cars on German road increased by only 30,000 to 83,175 at the start of 2019.

The electric car market in Germany is clearly growing and a wide variety of new models are expected to give the market a serious boost in 2019 and especially 2020.

Electric Car Market in German in December 2018

New electric passenger car vehicle registrations in Germany in December 2018 increased by 12.4% to 3,836 cars and a 1.62% market share compared to 3,412 cars and a market share of 1.3% in December 2017.

Electric cars in Germany in December 2018 achieved an all time high market share. Electric cars took a 1.2% share of the German new car market in September 2018, 1,34% in October 2018 and 1.6% in November 2018. The reason was largely due to a 20% decline in the total German new car market in September, followed by a 7% contraction in October, a further 10% decline in November and 7% in December due to the introduction of new emission control regulations that left many manufacturers temporarily unable to register new cars. In September, registrations of Audis were down by three quarters and VWs more than 60% – see 2018 Q3) Germany: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models for more details.

More clarity on the future of diesel cars, and especially older diesel cars, in Germany may help the market during the final month of 2018 but a recovery and return to normality is unlikely before 2019. Huge premiums are offered by manufacturers for exchanging older diesels for new cars but it remains unclear how many of owners would opt for electric cars. Renault for example already announced a €5,000 exchange premium for the Zoe.

Best-Selling Electric Car Brands in Germany in 2018 (Full Year)

New passenger vehicle registration data released by the KBA identified the following as the top-selling electric car brands in Germany in December 2018 and the full year 2018:

FY 2018BrandDec 2018FY 2018
All Electric Cars3,83636,062
Share of Total Car Market1.62%1.05%
21Source: KBA

Top-Selling Electric Carmakers in Germany in 2018 (December)

December 2018: Renault was the top-selling car brand in Germany in December 2018 for the second consecutive month. Renault was helped by strong demand for the Zoe. Volkswagen was again second but Audi took a surprising third place by finally moving electric cars from the car shows onto the road. BMW was fourth while Smart slipped to fifth.

January to December 2018: Volkswagen finally took the lead as Germany’s top electric car brand in December 2018 by outselling Renault by only 43 cars. Smart, for long the top-selling electric car brand in Germany, slipped back to third. BMW was a distant fourth followed by Kia and Nissan. Hyundai and Tesla were the only other brands with electric car registrations in Germany exceeding 2000 units in 2018.

Best-Selling Electric Car Models in Germany in 2018 (Full Year)

According to the KBA the following where the top-selling electric car models in Germany in December 2018 and the full year 2018:

FY18BrandModelDecember 2018Full Year 2018
Total Electric Market3,83636,062
9TeslaModel S631,248
11TeslaModel X42652
21Source: KBA

December 2018: The Renault Zoe retained the top slot as best-selling electric car model in Germany. The Zoe was helped by incentives of up to €5000 to replace older diesel cars with an electric Renault. In November 2018, the Zoe was the first electric car model to sell more than a thousand cars in a single month in Germany and in December came near that figure again.

The VW Golf was again the second best-selling electric car model in Germany. Volkswagen reportedly increased electric Golf production by third in recent months. However, the Golf will be replaced during 2019 with the e-Golf being succeeded by a new electric-only ID Neo model rather than an electric version of the standard Golf 8.

The BMW i3 regained third place from the Nissan Leaf with the Smart Fortwo again fifth.

However, the Audi e-tron was probably the third most-registered electric car model in Germany in December 2018 but the model is not yet specified separately in KBA statistics. 

Full Year 2018: During 2018, the Renault Zoe was the top-selling electric car model in Germany for the second consecutive year. In 2017, the Zoe led the electric car sales list with 4,322 sales followed by the Golf with 3,026.

The Smart Fortwo finished the year in third place despite weaker sales towards the end of the year. The BMW i3 was the fourth most popular electric car in Germany in 2018.

The Kia Soul and Nissan Leaf were the only other electric cars selling more 2,000 units in Germany in 2018 and the Hyundai Ioniq, Tesla Model S, and VW Up the only further models selling more than a thousand.

Conventional wisdom holds that carmakers are still selling electric cars at a loss and thus not keen on increasing sales at current market prices. The German motor press reported very long waiting times for electric car models.

It will be interesting to see if this continues when far more expansive models actually make it to market rather than the auto shows. The Audi e-tron, Mercedes EQ and Volkswagen’s ID range should add more attractive electric cars to the German market during 2019.

More on the German Car Market in 2018

Electric Car Sales in Germany

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.