2023 (Full Year) Germany: Car Market Overview and Analysis

In full year 2023, the German new car market expanded by 7.3% to the highest number of new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany in three years but still well below pre-pandemic levels.

In full year 2023, the German new car market expanded by 7.3% to the highest new passenger vehicle registrations in Germany in three years.
VW ID Buzzes — © Volkswagen AG

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany increased by 7.3% to 2,844,609 cars in 2023 — the fourth consecutive year that the total German new car market failed to reach four million vehicles. Battery-electric car sales increased only moderately higher than the market average for an 18.4% BEV share of the total market. The average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in Germany in 2023 increased by 5%.

Latest German Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric, 2022-2007.

German New Motorized Vehicle Market in 2023 (Full Year)

In 2023, total new motorized vehicle registrations in Germany expanded by 7.3% to 3,476,546 vehicles (Kraftfahrzeuge) — a good 236,000 vehicles more than in 2022. Passenger cars (PKW) were by far the largest component of this total and also increased by 7.3% to 2,844,609 new passenger vehicle registrations — 193,252 more cars than in 2022 but still well below pre-pandemic levels. Sales of buses and heavy commercial vehicles outperformed.

According to the KBA, the composition of the new motorized vehicle market in Germany in 2023 was as follows:

Vehicle CategoryFahrzeugklasseFY 2023FY2022%22/23
Motor CyclesKrafträder222,046223,889-0.8
Cars (PKW)Personenkraftwagen2,844,6092,651,357+7.3
BusesKraftomnibusse5,4934,883+12.5
Trucks (Lorries / LKW)Lastkraftwagen290,693253,894+14.5
Tractor UnitsZugmaschinen insgesamt92,62885,449+8.4
– of which Semi-Trailer– dar. Sattelzugmaschinen42,42632,608+30.1
Other motorized vehiclesSonstige Kraftfahrzeuge21,07721,006+0.3
All Motorized VehiclesKraftfahrzeuge zusammen3,476,5463,240,478+7.3
TrailersKraftfahrzeuganhänger272,401311,752-12.6
Source: KBA

New Passenger Car Sales in Germany by Month in 2023

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

German Car Registrations by Month in 2022 © KBA
German Car Registrations by Month in 2021, 2022, and 2023 © KBA

New car sales in Germany were higher in most months of 2023 compared to 2022 and 2021. August 2023 registrations were unusually high for a summer month but were due to businesses registering battery-electric cars before subsidies were canceled as preannounced in September 2023.

The unexpected suspension in mid-December 2023 of subsidies for battery-electric cars bought by private buyers introduced uncertainty in the market despite carmakers suddenly finding the funds to ensure buyers receive the full discounts. December 2023 sales appeared particularly weak due to high registrations in December 2022, as buyers then tried to beat a deadline of lower subsidies introduced from January 2023.

New Car Sales in Germany by Year (2007-2023)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Germany in the full calendar year 2023 increased by 7.3% to 2,844,609 cars — 193,252 more than the 2,651,357 cars sold in 2022 but still over three-quarters of a million fewer cars than in 2019. 2023 was the fourth 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
20232,844,6097.3
20222,651,3571,1
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 2023 (Full Year)

In 2023, the popularity of petrol-engined cars increased — largely due to the cancelation of subsidies for plug-in hybrids — with sales up 13.3% and a market share of 34.3% compared to 32.6% in 2022. Diesel sales increased by 3% but the market share declined from 17.8% to 17.1% in 2023. As was largely expected, the sales of plug-in hybrids in Germany fell by 51.5% following the end of subsidies for these cars.

The sales of battery-electric cars in Germany in 2023 increased by a fairly weak 11.4% to 524,219 BEV and a market share of 18.4% compared to 17.7% in 2022.

The average CO2-Emissions of new cars sold in Germany in 2023 increased by 4.9% to 114.9 g/km compared to 109.6 g/km in 2022, 118.7 g/km in 2021, and 139.8 g/km in 2020. As plug-in hybrids are often considered to drive on petrol rather than electricity the actual change in real-world emissions is probably less dramatic with fewer of these heavy cars being sold.

The most popular car colors in Germany in 2023 remained grey (including silver) at 31.6%, black (26.5%), and white (20.7%).

German Car Sales by Market Segment in 2023

The most important market sectors for German new car sales in 2023 were:

  • 30.1% (29.3% in 2022 and 25.4% in 2021) SUV, e.g. VW T-Roc
  • 16.3 (15.9% and 17.5%) compact, e.g. VW Golf
  • 11.9% (12.4% and 14.3%) small, e.g. VW Polo
  • 11.4% (11.3% and 10.7%) Geländewagen / Cross-Country, e.g. VW Tiguan
  • 10.5 % (10.2% and 10.3%) mid-size, e.g. VW Passat

With many so-called SUVs hardly different from a compact or small hatchback the terminology is increasingly irrelevant. It is also worth noting that in most other markets, SUV and Geländewagen numbers are combined so the market share of such cars in Germany is now 41.5% (40.6% in 2022).

German Car Production and Exports in 2023

According to the VDA, car production in Germany in 2023 increased by 18% to only 4,115,600 vehicles of which 3,110,100 (+17%) were exported.

German Car Sales Statistics 2023 (Full Year)

Latest German Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Market Overview, Brands, Models, Electric, 2022-2007.