German new-car registrations fall by nearly half in May

04 June 2020

4 June 2020

New-car registrations in Germany dropped by 49.5% in May, compared with the same month last year. In total, only 168,148 new passenger cars were registered according to the automotive authority Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA). Of these, 61.9% were for commercial use, while the private share made up 38%.

These figures represent a marginal improvement on the 61.1% decline logged last month. Overall, German registrations are among the least hard hit when compared with other major European markets. However, other countries are also beginning to see slight improvements on previous months. For example, Italy’s registrations for May 2020 came in 49.6% lower compared with May 2019. Whereas in April 2020 their registrations were down 97.6% year-on-year.

As coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns continue to ease across Europe, registration figures could potentially see an upturn. However, this will be largely dependent on securing supply, as well as how and when showrooms and registration centres are able to reopen. As the first country to reopen dealership doors, Germany could prove a trendsetter for other European markets.

Breaking down brands and types

Without exception, new registrations of German brands dropped in May. Smart, co-owned by Daimler fell by 91.4% and BMW by 62.1%, representing two of the sharpest year-on-year declines. With 17.6%, VW secured the highest market share, but also suffered a fall of 51.5%.

Subaru was the only imported brand to achieve a new registration increase of 13.3%. In contrast, the largest falls were recorded for Dacia, which dropped by 63.4% and SEAT by 61.1%. Skoda saw the largest share of new imported registrations at 5.8%, despite a decline of 47.8%. Fiat also managed to achieve a share of 5.1%, while seeing a year-on-year drop of 13%.

Most of the newly registered passenger cars belonged to the SUV segment, with a share of 19.9%. The compact segment followed shortly after with 18.9%. Small cars made up 14.3%, while off-road vehicles accounted for 12%. The motorhome segment recorded the only a year-on-year increase at 6.2%, up 29.1%. All other segments recorded a decline, which was most pronounced for city cars (3.9%, down 70.1%) and MPVs (1.3%, down 73.3%).

Drivetrain types

A recorded 51.1% of new cars were equipped with a petrol engine (85,904, down 56.3%). Diesel vehicles saw a share of 31.6% in May (53,218, a drop of 52%). While still occupying a comparatively small market share, alternative drivetrains saw a predominantly positive trend. Electric cars represented 3.3% of the market with 5,578 registrations, up 20.5% compared with the same period in 2019.

Hybrids saw 22,844 registrations (13.6%, up 18.3%), including 6,755 plug-ins (4% and up 106.6%). Additionally, 200 liquified gas passenger cars were registered (0.1%, a year-on-year increase of 78.4%) and natural gas vehicles recorded 378 registrations (0.2%, up 50.7%). Average CO2 emissions from newly registered passenger cars fell by 2.2% to 154.8g/km.

The used-vehicle market also declined by 9.9% to a total of 664,538 vehicles. With the exception of motorcycles (69,994 registrations, up 25.5 %) and tractors (11,757 registrations, up 4.9 %), the declines were spread across all vehicle classes.