German new-car registrations fall 38% in March

06 April 2020

6 April 2020

New passenger-car registrations in Germany fell by 38% last month to 215,119 units amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, according to the automotive authority Kraftfahrt Bundesamt (KBA). Commercial registrations dropped by 39.6%, with a share of 61.9%, and private registrations dropped by 34.4%. In a problematic first quarter for 2020, the overall decline in new passenger-car registrations was 20.3%.

Compared with Italy (-85%), France (-72%) and Spain (-69%), Germany and the UK have not seen such pronounced declines in new-car registrations. This falls in line with Autovista Group’s expectations, as measures to slow COVID-19 were introduced later in these two countries.


The decline in registrations impacted all the German brands. Smart saw one of the biggest falls at 84.4%, then came Audi at 36.5%. Market leader VW experienced a decline of 35%, Porsche 28.7%, Mercedes 28.2% and BMW’s registrations dropped by 21.3%. Meanwhile, Mini fared slightly better with a 20.7% decline.

Among imported brands, Subaru was the only manufacturer to record an increase in new registrations, up 1.6%. Other importers followed the declining trend with a 63.2% drop for Alfa Romeo, Mazda fell by 57% and Suzuki recorded a decrease of 55.4%. With a slightly less severe downturn, Lexus was down 2.8% and Tesla came away from March with a 4.4% decrease in registrations.

Class and drive

The compact class was the strongest segment, with a 21.1% share, but still suffered a 37.2% drop in unit sales. Then came SUVs, which claimed a share of 20.3% while declining 37.5%. New registrations of off-road vehicles fell by 26.2%, with a share of 10.9%. Minivans experienced the most pronounced drop in registrations at 67.3%, with a share of 1.2%.

Compared with March 2019, alternative fuel types recorded growth, in some cases going into a triple-digit range. Hybrids saw 28,735 registrations, an increase of 62%, including 9,426 plug-in hybrids (up 207.9%). There were 10,329 electric vehicles registered, an upswing of 56.1%. Natural gas-powered passenger cars increased registrations on the previous year by 8.6% to 507 units, reaching a share of 0.2%.

In contrast, at 82 units, liquid gas-powered passenger cars recorded a fall of 89.9%. New registrations of petrol-powered cars dropped by 48.3%, managing to retain a share of 50%, with 107,507 new vehicles. Diesel experienced a decline of 39.3% with 67,927 passenger cars, equating to a share of 31.6%.

Further figures

The KBA recorded 271,164 motor vehicles (down 34.7%) and 23,433 motor-vehicle trailers (down29.7%) newly registered last month. A total of 536,463 motor vehicles (down 25.8%) and 23,652 motor-vehicle trailers (down 32.9%) changed owners in the same month. The authority also recorded a 4.9% drop in average emissions in March, reaching 149 g/km (considerably higher than the 95g/km that triggers fines in the EU).