September’s BEV struggles revealed the models preferred by German businesses
15 November 2023
Germany’s battery-electric vehicle (BEV) market struggled in September as company incentives ended. José Pontes, data director at EV-volumes.com, examines the models that succeeded and struggled as business buyers backed off.
The entire German new-car market remained flat in September, due to a big drop in BEV deliveries. This was brought about by the end of incentives for all-electric company cars, which created a ‘hangover’ as businesses completed their purchases before the deadline.
In total, 31,714 BEVs were registered in September, down 29% year on year and accounting for 14% of the overall market. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) also suffered, with 15,383 registrations making up a 6.9% market share, around half of their share 12 months ago.
The hangover is also visible in the electric vehicle (EV) sales breakdown (BEVs and PHEVs combined). All-electric models represented just 67% of EV sales in September, nine percentage points below 2023’s average.
Company car reliance clear
With an abnormal month of registrations, an unusual top 20 was expected in September. There were a few surprises in the overall results, as the models dependent on fleet and company registrations were revealed.
Topping the table in September, once again, was the Tesla Model Y with 3,921 registrations. Thanks to Tesla’s end-of-quarter mass-delivery schedules, it was a peak month for the Model Y, putting it some way ahead of the runner-up.
This is where the disruption caused by the withdrawal of incentives starts to show, alongside new model launches which propelled some vehicles up the table. The Opel Corsa EV took second place in September with 2,175 units registered.
In third was the Fiat 500e. Its 1,765 registrations helped it to continue an impressive run that has seen it reside within the top end of the chart in recent months. Its position may not have been a surprise, but a vehicle that did benefit from the BEV disruption, the Ford Kuga PHEV in fourth.
The model performed well in 2022 but has struggled this year, occasionally making it to the bottom end of the table, and not appearing at all in the year-to-date top 20. Yet its 1,411 registrations in September made it the best-performing PHEV in the month.
In fifth place was the Opel Mokka EV, with 1,286 deliveries, meaning Stellantis placed three models in Germany’s top five for the month.
The leading Volkswagen (VW) Group model was the Audi Q4 e-Tron in sixth, with 1,187 units, followed closely by the Skoda Enyaq with 1,137 registrations. The VW brand was a notable absentee from the top 10, highlighting its reliance on business and fleet registrations.
While the ID.4 topped the table in August, the model placed 14th in September with just 765 deliveries. The ID.3, which has also regularly appeared in the top five, dropped to 19th, as just 712 units went to buyers. It was beaten by the Cupra Born, essentially a rebadged ID.3, which took 10th place with 974 units. The Cupra brand is more likely to appeal to private buyers than businesses, especially in VW’s domestic market.
There were further surprises in the lower half of the table. Stellantis placed two other models in the top 20, with the Peugeot e-208 in 11th and the Opel Grandland PHEV in 17th. The compact crossover was Opel’s third model in the chart, a first for the German make in its domestic market.
Another standout performance was that of the Mercedes-Benz EQE, which took 13th. The model took the top spot in the full-size category, beating the Audi Q8 e-Tron. The GLC PHEV returned to the table in ninth, while the C-segment PHEV came in 18th. With 1,104 registrations, the EQA took a stronger-than-expected eighth place, meaning the brand put four models in the top 20, more than any other carmaker in September.
Outside of the top 20, the first registrations of the VW ID.7 revealed a slower start than expected, with just 31 units. This is despite expectations for the highly-anticipated model to end 2024 in a top 10 position.
Tesla benefits from VW woes
Between January and September, the Tesla Model Y sat high above its competition with 38,508 units registered. This is a disruptive performance for a foreign model in Germany, one also seen in the mainstream marketplace.
The VW ID.4 remained in second, while the ID.3 stayed in third, but the poor performance of both models meant they lost ground to those around them. The Model Y outsold the ID.4 by over 3,100 units in September alone, while the fourth-placed Fiat 500e closed by over 1,000 units on the VW BEV. However, with 1,800 units still separating the two and VW’s usual end-of-year peak, the ID.3 is still likely to hang on to third place as the year runs out.
VW Group is still dominating the top of the table, with five of the best seven selling models of the year within the company’s stable. Only the Tesla Model 3, currently in eighth, could have any impact on this German domination, with peak deliveries of its refreshed version expected in December.
The second half of the table saw four position changes in September. The most impressive of these was the Opel Corsa EV. Thanks to a strong result in September, the model surged seven positions to 12th. It is now in the race to lead the B-segment, together with the 11th-place Mini Cooper EV and Hyundai Kona EV in 10th.
A couple of positions behind, the BMW iX1 kept rising, having jumped two places to 14th. Just below, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class PHEV secured 15th, thanks to its September performance. Another model which benefited from a better performance in the month was the Opel Mokka EV, which took 20th. This means Opel placed two models in the table, something which has not happened for a while.
Yet despite the BEV hangover, PHEVs have not managed to add more models to the year-to-date table. The powertrain’s only representative was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class PHEV in 15th. Despite the Ford Kuga’s strong performance in the month, it is still not troubling the top registrations chart.
Domestic brand dominance
In the brand rankings, VW kept its spot at the top of the table, but lost market share, with an 11.9% holding in September down from 12.3% in August. It remains to be seen if this downward trend will continue, or whether this is just a bump in the road for the brand.
In second, Mercedes-Benz was the big winner in the month. It claimed a market share of 11.2% thanks to its strong performance in September. The brand also saw its competitors struggle. VW’s drop closed the gap at the top, while behind it, third-place Tesla also lost share, as the absence of the Model 3 from the best-seller list in September meant the carmaker only took 10% of the market.
Another winner was BMW (7.5%, up from 7.3%). Like Mercedes-Benz, it profited from its PHEV line-up to increase its market share and secure fourth. The marque was helped by the fact that fifth-place Audi (6.6%, down from 6.9%) was also hit by the end of BEV subsidies.
Audi’s drop could give sixth-place Hyundai (5.1% share) and maybe seventh-place Opel (4.7% share) some hope of making it into the top five by year end.
When looking at automotive groups, with brand figures brought together under their parent companies, VW Group continued to dominate. The drop in registrations of two important models was slightly offset by the performance of other brands. This included Audi and Skoda, but the group’s holding still fell from 28% in August, to 27.4% in September.
Some distance behind, Mercedes-Benz took a 13.8% market share, thanks to a strong performance from its own brand. Stellantis also benefited from a strong month, although its gains were more modest. The multinational conglomerate raised its share to 12.5%.
In fifth, BMW Group saw a small gain up to 9.5%. In sixth, Hyundai Motor Group (8.3%) saw its dream of reaching the top five spot become more distant, as Kia dragged the OEM down in September.