2021 (Q1) Germany: Best-Selling Electric Car Brands and Models

Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Tesla were the top-selling electric car brands in Germany during the first quarter of 2021 while the VW Up was the favorite BEV in Q1.

Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Tesla were the top-selling electric car brands in Germany during the first quarter of 2021 while the VW Up was the favorite BEV in Q1.
© Volkswagen AG

First-quarter 2021: Volkswagen was the best-selling battery-electric vehicle (BEV) brand in Germany, followed by Hyundai, and Tesla. The electric car market increased by 150% from a year ago with BEV cars taking nearly a ten percent share of the total German new car market. Somewhat surprisingly, the VW Up was the best-selling electric car in Germany thus far in 2021 followed by the Tesla Model 3 and the VW ID3.

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

Electric Car Market in Germany in 2021 (Q1)

New battery-electric passenger vehicle registrations in Germany increased by 149% during the first quarter of 2021 to 64,694 — more than double the 25,975 electric cars sold in Germany during the first three months of 2021. First-quarter electric car sales in 2021 were more than sales of the total 2019 and double full-year 2018 sales.

Electric car sales in Germany during the first quarter of recent years were as follows according to KBA statistics:

Q1/2021Q1/2020Q1/2019Q1/2018
Total Electric64,69425,97515,9019,102
Total Car Market656,452701,362880,092878,611
% Share Electric9.863.71.181.04

Electric car sales in Germany took a record 9.86% of the total new car market during the first quarter of 2021. Sales of electric cars in Germany have been strong since the German government announced huge incentives for the registration of zero-emission cars, as a response to the effect of the coronavirus-related lockdowns on the German automotive industry. These special subsidies could be as high as €9,000 for a battery-electric car.

The market was also helped by more electric car models becoming available, although supply remained a major problem. For all new electric cars, waiting lists are in place with many popular models already sold out for a year. This again raised the question of whether all car manufacturers are able to produce electric car models at a profit.

Best-Selling Electric Car Brands in Germany in 2021 (Q1)

According to new electric passenger vehicle registration data released by the KBA, the following were the top electric car brands in Germany during the first three months of 2021:

BrandQ1/2021Q1/2020% Share
1Volkswagen16,2206,32125.1
2Hyundai6,1801,4789.6
3Tesla6,0743,3159.4
4Smart5,9751,4389.2
5Renault5,0474,0957.8
6BMW3,0291,5824.7
7Opel2,7799844.3
8Peugeot2,7551914.3
9Audi2,5321,9143.9
10Mini2,3883903.7
11Kia1,7296612.7
12Mercedes-Benz1,6513172.6
13Fiat1,6142.5
14Skoda1,5158652.3
15Nissan1,0118931.6
Source: KBA

Volkswagen became the largest producer of electric cars in Germany during 2020 and continued to dominate the market during the first quarter of 2021. A quarter of all electric car models sold in Germany during the first three months were Volkswagens — a share even larger than the 20% VW enjoyed of the total German new car market.

Hyundai narrowly outsold Tesla as the second-largest electric car brand in Germany thus far this year. As before, Tesla registrations were a bit haphazardly and might become more regular once production in Berlin starts.

Smart moved into fourth from sixth — its electric-only strategy was not fully backed up by the availability of cars. Renault slipped from second to fifth with the French brand seemingly unable to continue its early success with electric cars with an overreliance on the Zoe that seemed increasingly dated against newer competition.

Opel, Peugeot, and Mini were gaining market share rapidly in the German electric car market with new models.

Best-Selling Electric Car Models in Germany in 2021 (Q1)

According to new passenger vehicle registration data released by the KBA, the following were the top 25 electric car models in Germany during the first three months of 2021:

ModelSales 2021 (Q1)Sales 2020 (Q1)
1VW Up7,2601,804
2Tesla Model 36,0312,901
3VW ID35,951New
4Hyundai Kona5,722997
5Smart Fortwo4,417952
6Renault Zoe4,2824,095
7BMW i32,8411,582
8Mini Mini2,388390
9Audi E-Tron2,1261,884
10Opel Corsa2,109633
11Peugeot 2081,906152
12Fiat 5001,614New
13Smart Forfour1,558486
14Skoda Citigo1,509865
15VW Golf1,4724,119
16VW ID41,445New
17Kia Niro1,172184
18Mercedes GLQ1,110277
19Seat Mii964248
20Nissan Leaf957720
21Porsche Taycan957526
22Peugeot 2008815New
23Renault Twingo765New
24Opel Mokka608New
25Mercedes Benz GLA315New
Source: KBA

It was a bit of a surprise that the aging VW Up was not only the top-selling electric Volkswagen in Germany thus far in 2021 but the best-selling electric car model overall. The large subsidies made the electric Up suddenly affordable for many buyers, as well as car-sharing schemes. The Up’s sister cars — the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii — also sold in record numbers despite previous reports that production of the cars would be halted. The Up was only the fifth most popular electric car during the first three months of 2020 with sales only a quarter of those sold thus far this year.

The Tesla Model 3 moved up from third to second place. Model 3 sales doubled from a year ago but Tesla seems to rely too heavily on a single model — only 43 other Tesla models were sold in Germany thus far this year.

The Volkswagen ID3 was only narrowly beaten into third place. It is still expected that the ID3 will be the best-selling electric car in Germany in the near future. ID 4 deliveries amounted to only 1,445 cars thus far this year but VW expects this SUV to become its leading electric model worldwide. Production of the best-selling electric car of 2021, the eGolf, ended but the Golf still managed to just outsell the ID4 this year. An electric version of the current Golf is not planned.

The Hyundai Kona was the fourth best-selling electric car model in Germany thus far in 2021 giving VW an indication that the market is keen on an electric SUV and will also encourage Tesla to get production of the Model Y going in Germany despite bureaucratic frustrations.

The Smart Fortwo had a revival with sales up by 363% while Forfour sales tripled. In contrast, Renault Zoe sales were flat and the Zoe slipped from second last year to only sixth. Another early electric car, the Nissan Leaf, dropped from 10th to 20th.

BMW i3 production continued longer than expected and sales almost doubled from a year ago. The electric Mini was well received.

The Opel Corsa moved into tenth place — just outselling the Peugeot 208 on which it is based.

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

Electric Car Sales in Germany