Germany is Europe’s third-largest market for plug-in vehicles, and sales are growing quickly. However, electrified vehicles still represent a minute fraction of the overall automotive market, and better information for consumers will be necessary to get the country to start plugging in.
These are among the conclusions of a new report from London-based automotive business intelligence firm JATO Dynamics, called Focus on Germany: Electric, Hybrid & Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles FY2015 Market Overview.
Electrified vehicles (including hybrids, PHEVs and EVs) accounted for 1.35% of the German auto market in 2015. While EV and PHEV volumes showed strong growth rates – over 70% worldwide – hybrid sales decreased by 2%.
Hybrids never really caught on in Europe. In Germany, plug-in vehicles are already outselling conventional hybrids. In 2015, Germans bought around 20,000 new hybrid vehicles, 11,000 PHEVs and 13,000 pure EVs.
The top-selling PHEVs in Germany are, not surprisingly, from local icon Volkswagen, whose plug-in Golf and Passat sold 3,136 units combined. Following closely was Mitsubishi, whose plug-in Outlander SUV sold 2,138 units.
Germany’s top-selling EV may come as a bit of a surprise – the Kia Soul EV. This handy hatchback is (so far) a low-volume afterthought in the US market, but Germans bought 3,842 of them in 2015.
JATO found that there is not enough knowledge and awareness of alternative powertrains in the German market – several studies found that less than 10% of new car buyers would consider electric or hybrid vehicles. Negative preconceptions about high purchase costs, limited range and lack of infrastructure are holding buyers back, although actual EV drivers do not share those concerns.
Unlike France, Norway and the US, Germany offers little in the way of incentives for EV adoption, but there is an ongoing political discussion about the issue. Industry executives will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in April, and are expected to lobby the government for cash rebates of up to €5,000. JATO foresees some combination of cash rebates and tax incentives as a likely compromise.