2021 (Full Year) Germany: Car and Vehicle Markets Overview and Analysis

In 2021, new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany decreased by another 10% — market analysis shows the German car market at its smallest in years.

In 2021, new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany decreased by another 10% -- market analysis shows the German car market at its smallest in years.

In full-year 2021, the German new car market contracted by 10.1% to 2,622,132 passenger cars (PKW) — the lowest total of new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany in a calendar year for decades. Sales of heavy commercial trucks improved but sales of light commercial vehicles and motorcycle sales were weaker. Sales of electric cars increased to double market share to 13.6% of the German new car market while only a fifth of all new cars used diesel.  Volkswagen was again the top-selling brand in Germany in 2021, the VW Golf the favorite car model despite production issues, and the Tesla Model 3 the best-selling electric car model.

German Car Sales Statistics — 2022: Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric; 2021: Market, Brands, Models, Electric; 2020: Market, Brands, Models, Electric; 2019: Market, Brands, Models, Electric

German New Motorized Vehicle Market in 2021 (Full Year)

In 2021, total new motorized vehicle registrations in Germany contracted by 8.7% to 3,233,891 vehicles (Kraftfahrzeuge) — more than 200,000 fewer than in 2020 and almost a million fewer vehicles than in 2019. Passenger cars (PKW) are by far the largest component of this total and hit hard by a 10.1% decline in registrations.

Commercial vehicles performed generally better with sales of light commercial vehicles only marginally weaker while heavy commercial vehicle sales increased.

According to the KBA, the composition of the new motorized vehicle market in Germany in 2021 was as follows:

Vehicle CategoryFahrzeugklasseFY2021FY2020% 21/20
Motor CyclesKraftr盲der200,231221,994-9.8
Cars (PKW)Personenkraftwagen2,622,1322,917,678-10.1
BusesKraftomnibusse6,4746,460+0.2
Trucks (Lorries / LKW)Lastkraftwagen293,359295,166-0.6
Tractor UnitsZugmaschinen insgesamt90,03979,646+13.0
– of which Semi-Trailer– dar. Sattelzugmaschinen29,69825,946+14.5
Other motorized vehiclesSonstige Kraftfahrzeuge21,65621,499+0.7
All Motorized VehiclesKraftfahrzeuge zusammen3,233,8913,542,443-8.7
TrailersKraftfahrzeuganh盲nger341,544335,296+1.9
Source: KBA

German Car Production and Exports in 2021

Car production in Germany in 2021 fell by 12% to only 3.1 million — the lowest number since 1975. Supply shortages, rather than demand, were the main brake on German car production, as was the case worldwide.

According to the VDA, car exports from Germany were down 10% to only 2.4 million vehicles exported in 2021.

New Passenger Car Sales in Germany by Month in 2021

The German new passenger car market was mostly negative throughout 2021, except for the few months that corresponded with the heaviest declines in 2020 when much of Germany was in Covid lockdown. However, a lack of computer chips and other supply chain issues led to heavy shortages in cars and lower sales each month of the second half of the year. Car sales in Germany in 2021 were far weaker each month of the year compared to 2019 when the German new car market was near record highs.

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany per month were as follows during the past three years:

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany per month were as follows during the past three years 2021 2020 2019
漏 KBA

New Car Sales in Germany by Year (2007-2021)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany in the full calendar year 2021 contracted by 10.1% to 2,622,132 cars — almost a million fewer cars than in 2019. This was the lowest total for the German new car market since re-unification in 1990 and the lowest since 1985 if only the West German market is counted. It was the second consecutive year that the German new car market was smaller than three million vehicles.

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany by year since 2007 were as follows:

YearGerman Car Sales% Change
20212,622,132-10.1
20202,917,678-19.1
20193,607,2585
20183,435,778-0.2
20173,441,2622.7
20163,351,6074.5
20153,206,0425.6
20143,036,7732.9
20132,952,431-4.2
20123,082,504-2.2
20113,173,6349
20102,916,260-23.4
20093,807,17523.2
20083,090,040-1.8
20073,148,163-9.2
Source: KBA

German Passenger Car Market in 2021 (Full Year)

In 2021, the popularity of both petrol and diesel-engined cars declined further in Germany. Petrol (excluding hybrids) remained by far the largest component of new cars but the market share slipped to 37.1% compared to 46.7% in 2020, 59.2% in 2019, and 62.4% in 2018. The market share for diesel was down to 20.1% (previous years 28.1%, 32%, and 32.3%).

Hybrid cars took a market share of 28.8% in 2021 compared to 18.1% in 2020 and 6.6% in 2019 with 754,588 (+43%) hybrid car registrations in Germany for the first time in 2021. This number included 325,449 (+62.3%) plug-in hybrids for a market share of 12.4%.

Registrations of battery-electric cars increased by 83.3% to 355,961 electric cars in 2021. In 2020, sales of electric cars in Germany more than tripled (+207%) but despite slower growth in 2021, the share of battery-electric cars of the German new car market doubled from 6.7% in 2020 to 13.6% in 2021. In 2019, electric cars had a market share of only 1.8% in Germany.

Average CO2-Emissions of new cars sold in Germany in 2021 were down 15.1% to 118.7 g/km (139.8 g/km in 2020 and 157.0 g/km in 2019). (Methodology was different in 2019, so the figures are not directly comparable.)

The most popular car colors in Germany in 2021 remained grey (including silver) at 29.8%, black (24.7%), and white (21.5%).

German Car Sales by Market Segment in 2021

The most important market sectors for German new car sales in 2021 were:

  • 25.4% SUV, e.g. VW T-Roc
  • 17.5% compact, e.g. VW Golf
  • 14.3% small, e.g. VW Polo
  • 10.7% Gel盲ndewagen / Cross-Country, e.g. VW Tiguan
  • 10.3% middle class, e.g. VW Passat

Volkswagen was again the top-selling brand in Germany in 2021, VW Golf the favorite car model, and the Tesla Model 3 the best-selling electric car model.

German Car Sales Statistics — 2021: Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric; 2020: Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric Cars; 2019: Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric Cars

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.