Germany, Europe’s largest auto market, has been slower than some of its neighbors to embrace EVs, but things seem to be changing fast. In March, plug-in vehicles accounted for a record 9.2% of the total auto market (as reported by CleanTechnica). The balance between pure EVs and PHEVs was about even. For the first time, sales of PHEVs overtook sales of old-fashioned hybrids.
Ironically, the two best-selling EVs were not German creations. Tesla’s Model 3 took the top spot with an estimated 1,490 sales, and Renault’s Zoe came in second with 1,231. However, Volkswagen’s e-Golf and e-up! and BMW’s i3 were not far behind.
The growing market share of EVs happened against a backdrop of a disastrous fall in overall auto sales. Monthly sales were down 38% year-on-year in Germany. (Other European markets did much worse—March sales dropped by 69% in Spain, 72% in France, and 85% in Italy.)
The outlook for the rest of the year is so unpredictable that (as reported by Automotive News Europe), Germany’s Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK) has withdrawn its previous forecast of 3.35 million auto sales in Germany in 2020. “Everything now depends on how long the crisis lasts and how long the necessary protective measures have to be maintained,” said VDIK President Reinhard Zirpel. “Nobody knows that at present. That’s why we will not make a new forecast until further notice.”
Will the market share of EVs continue to grow? Industry observers will keep a sharp eye on the Volkswagen Group, which has invested much money and prestige in this year’s launch of the ID.3, a new mass-market EV that could bring many more buyers into the electric future. However, by all accounts, VW and the other German automakers have been struggling with software issues.