2018 (Q3) Germany: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

January to September 2018: Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Audi remained the top-selling car brands in Germany. The VW Golf was the favorite car model.

BMW X4 at Geneva Auto Salon 2018

During the first three quarters of 2018, Volkswagen remained the largest carmaker in Germany and regained market share to again approach a fifth of the total German new car market. Premium brands Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW had weaker sales while Ford outsold Opel. The VW Golf easily maintained its traditional position as Germany’s favorite car model.

German New Car Market in 2018 (Q3)

New passenger vehicle registrations (PKW) in Germany increased by 2.4% during the first nine months of 2018 to 2,673,418 cars – just over 60,000 more cars than were sold during the first three quarters of 2017.

The total new motorized vehicle market (Kraftfahrzeuge) in Germany increased by 2.8% to 3,130,002 vehicles including cars (PKW), motorcycles, buses, and heavy vehicles (LKW).

The outlook for the German new car market remains positive despite the chaos of the implementation of new fuel test standards (WLTP) that saw an increase of sales of 25% in August 2018 followed by a slump of 30% in September 2018. BMW seemed more prepared for the change and was the best-selling car brand in Germany in September 2018 despite flat sales. The Volkswagen group seemed totally unprepared for the change with sales down 62% for VW, -78% for Audi, -76% for Porsche, -55% for Seat and -44% for Skoda. Even Opel outsold VW in Germany in September 2018. As the new WLTP rules prevented car registrations rather than manufacturing and sales the situation should normalize during the final quarter of 2018.

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in Germany in 2018 (Q3)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany during the first nine months of 2018 were as follows according to the KBA:

Marque Q1-3/2018 % Change 17/18 % Share Q1-3/2017 Q1-3/2016
Total Sales 2,673,418 2.4 100.0 2,611,821 2,555,783
1 VW 511,927 6.8 19.1 479,143 510,003
2 Mercedes 234,134 -7.1 8.8 252,072 235,828
3 Audi 217,709 -1.5 8.1 220,958 227,684
4 BMW 192,195 -2.1 7.2 196,349 196,584
5 Ford 189,326 3.3 7.1 183,208 183,456
6 Opel 173,876 -7.2 6.5 187,399 185,738
7 Skoda 153,022 4.3 5.7 146,715 140,772
8 Renault 105,235 5.4 3.9 99,821 88,072
9 Seat 96,533 23.2 3.6 78,338 71,290
10 Hyundai 87,511 7.0 3.3 81,804 81,346
11 Fiat 66,437 -5.9 2.5 70,632 61,788
12 Toyota 65,512 5.7 2.5 61,952 51,926
13 Dacia 58,759 23.2 2.2 47,691 37,752
14 Peugeot 53,073 11.9 2.0 47,411 42,629
15 Mazda 51,330 -0.4 1.9 51,556 49,904
16 Kia 51,036 5.6 1.9 48,344 46,458
17 Citroen 44,464 8.9 1.7 40,848 38,186
18 Nissan 42,519 -20.4 1.6 53,394 56,412
19 Mitsubishi 39,452 11.7 1.5 35,307 28,805
20 Mini 36,638 4.8 1.4 34,953 33,755
21 Volvo 30,566 5.1 1.1 29,086 28,050
22 Smart 30,485 19.7 1.1 25,474 26,442
23 Suzuki 28,131 -3.5 1.1 29,154 23,791
24 Porsche 25,556 11.4 1.0 22,938 23,053
25 Honda 15,091 -3.7 0.6 15,672 19,967
26 Land Rover 14,322 -22.2 0.5 18,414 17,253
27 Jeep 13,107 34.1 0.5 9,776 11,411
28 Jaguar 7,877 6.5 0.3 7,397 6,710
29 Subaru 5,846 1.5 0.2 5,760 5,408
30 Alfa Romeo 4,625 -4.0 0.2 4,817 3,039
31 DS 3,151 24.5 0.1 2,531 3,263
32 Lexus 2,057 -12.5 0.1 2,350 1,676
33 Ssangyong 2,006 -17.4 0.1 2,429 2,692
34 Tesla 1,616 -38.3 0.1 2,619 1,415
35 Others 18,294 0.7 15,509 13,225
Source: KBA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Germany in 2018 (Q3)

Despite the disastrous September results, Volkswagen remained the clear leading car brand in Germany during the first three quarters of 2018. Thus far in 2018, VW sales increased by 7% to add more than 30,000 cars to the 2017 figures and 2,000 more than in 2016. Volkswagen regained almost a percentage point market share and is heading back towards a fifth of the total German new car market.

Mercedes-Benz remained the second largest car manufacturer in Germany but sales were sharply down all year. Audi and BMW also had weaker sales in 2018. All three so-called premium brands lost market share to Volkswagen with sales lower than during the first three quarters of the previous two years.

Ford regained fifth place from Opel with firmer sales while Opel continued to struggle. Opel’s fortunes are unlikely to change until the launch of new models based on Peugeot cars next year.

Skoda and Renault both increased sales in Germany during the first three quarters of 2018 to maintained their relative rank position from a year ago. Seat increased sales by almost a quarter to take ninth place from Hyundai despite the Korean brand increasing sales by 7%.

Fiat sales in Germany were down by 6% while Toyota increased sales by 6%. Dacia sales were up by nearly a quarter for the second consecutive year while Peugeot also experienced double-digit growth in car sales in Germany for the second consecutive year.

The most-improved brands in Germany during the first three quarters of 2018 were Jeep (34%), DS (25%), Seat (23%), Dacia (23%) and Smart (20%).

The worst performing brands in Germany during the first nine months of 2018 were Tesla (-38%), Land Rover (-22%) and Nissan (-20%).

Best-Selling Car Models in Germany in 2018 (Q1-3)

The 20 top-selling car models in Germany from January to September 2018 according to the KBA were:

Car Model Q1-3/2018 Q1-3/2017 Q1-3/2016
1 VW GOLF 162,916 168,781 188,141
2 VW TIGUAN 60,632 52,953 46,819
3 VW PASSAT 56,238 54,270 62,990
4 VW POLO 54,281 51,822 53,394
5 AUDI A4, S4, RS4 48,276 46,006 49,371
6 MERCEDES C-CLASS 46,480 54,511 51,443
7 SKODA OCTAVIA 45,716 44,704 43,957
8 AUDI A3, S3, RS3 38,510 39,090 46,256
9 FORD FOCUS 37,430 32,172 37,026
10 VW TOURAN 36,875 38,722 41,990
11 MINI MINI 36,638 34,952 33,755
12 SKODA FABIA 36,345 38,206 38,014
13 OPEL CORSA 35,852 40,036 42,189
14 FORD FIESTA 35,303 27,996 31,030
15 OPEL ASTRA 35,122 44,906 48,624
16 SEAT LEON 34,025 33,764 35,674
17 FORD KUGA 32,977 27,626 27,938
18 VW TRANSPORTER 32,208 30,256 31,598
19 MERCEDES E-CLASS 32,098 36,120 27,303
20 BMW 1 SERIES 31,191 32,052 33,163
Source: KBA

Top 20 Best-Selling Car Models in Germany in 2018 (Q1-Q3)

The VW Golf of course remained unchallenged as the best-selling car model in Germany but the chaos of the new regulations that left many carmakers unable to register new cars had a clear influence on the top-selling models: in September 2018 not a single Audi model was among the top 50 best-selling car models in Germany while two are among the top ten for year-to-date figures.

The second most-popular car model in Germany thus far this year was the VW Tiguan – up from fourth a year ago and at its highest position ever. However, in September, the Tiguan failed to make it onto the top 50 list. SUVs generally did well with the new T-Roc at 24th after less than a year on the market.

The VW Passat was again third as the only top 10 car other than the Golf to maintain the same rank position as a year ago. The VW Polo and Audi A4 each moved up one position as last year’s number two – the Mercedes C-Class – slipped to sixth.

The Skoda Octavia improved one position to remain the top imported car model in Germany. The Audi A3 improved from 10th a year ago.

The Ford Focus improved from 16th a year ago to re-enter the top ten list in Germany for the first time since 2014 and only the second top-ten car not produced by the Volkswagen Group. The VW Touran improved one place as the fifth Volkswagen model in the top-10 list.

Two Opel car models dropped out of the top-ten list: the Corsa down to 13th from 9th and the Astra down to 15th from 7th.