Chinese E-cars are becoming more popular in Germany

The Covid-19 pandemic still has car manufacturers suffering. Above all, the so-called chip crisis, the sluggish production of semiconductors, is giving the industry a hard time. Electromobility, which only really took off two years ago, is also feeling the effects. At the end of 2020, JATO Dynamics analysed the market for vehicles with battery electric drive (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid models (PHEVs). At that time, more than half of the e-cars registered in Germany came from German brands – vehicles from China played virtually no role in this country. Surprisingly, the most popular electric car among Germans at that time came from France: the Renault Zoe. The VW e-Golf, produced by a German brand, came in second.

But already last year, despite numerous new models, growth was significantly weaker than in previous years. How does that look for the first five months of this year? How has the market developed? Does the favorite still come from France? And do models from China play a role now?

Only 10th place for former bestseller

Almost 250,000 BEVs and PHEVs were registered in Germany between January and May 2022. Of these, only just under 46 percent came from German manufacturers. That still outweighs the next three countries on the list, the USA, France and South Korea, which together accounted for just under 32 percent. The most popular model, however, was an American with a market share of four per cent: the Tesla Model 3, of which a good 10,000 were sold in the first five months of 2022. It was followed by the Fiat 500 with 8,300 units sold, Ford Kuga with almost 7,600 registrations, Cupra Formentor and Hyundai Kona, each with a market share of around three per cent. The once so popular Renault Zoe may have passed its zenith. The little French car barely made it into the Top 10 with just under 5,000 units.

This is all the more astonishing because the Tesla, with an average price across all model variants of 54,000 euros, is almost 18,000 euros more expensive than the Zoe. But the second-placed Fiat 500 straightens things out: it costs an average of just under 33,000 euros. Three of the ten best-selling models were PHEVs, which, with average prices around 45,000 euros, tend to be among the more expensive vehicles in the Top 20 registrations. But hybrid models in large numbers will soon be a thing of the past, as the government subsidy for them expires at the end of the year.

Remarkably, the most successful e-car produced from Germany was one that has already been in production since 2013. The BMW i3 came in 8th place in the registration statistics. Much more modern types such as the ID.3 and ID.4 from Volkswagen, the Smart Fortwo or the Ioniq 5 from Hyundai came in much lower. However, this could have been due to the currently very long waiting times of numerous models.

Chinese manufacturers have extended their global market leadership

The ranking also shows that the number of new models has risen rapidly since 2020: While the ten best-selling models accounted for a good 41 percent of registrations in the last comparison, this year it was only slightly more than 26 percent. Only two models in the Top 10 came from German brands, eight in the Top 20.

And where are the electric cars from China? Have they caught up in the past two years or even overtaken one or the other competitor? Globally, the Chinese are now setting the pace: 37 per cent market share between January and May, followed by Germany and the USA with 20 per cent each. Six of the ten best-selling models came from China – and half of them were in the Top 20. That makes almost one million vehicles. Only Tesla can keep up: More than 873,000 vehicles (Model 3 and Y) came from the Americans in the Top 20 ranking. In contrast, the 144,000 German e-cars (VW ID.3/4) hardly make a difference.

In Germany, on the other hand, things look different. Here, e-cars from China still play a minor role. But compared to 2020, they still came to a market share of around two and a half percent. The Chinese-Swedish Polestar 2 (BEV) and the MG HS (PHEV) were able to achieve noteworthy unit numbers with a good 2,000 registrations each. But the other manufacturers such as Aiways, Lynk & CO or Maxus are already waiting in the wings. And Great Wall Motors has already announced that it is coming to Germany with its ORA and WEY brands. Sales and service will be handled by a large Swiss dealer group. So it’s only a matter of time before Chinese e-cars become a common sight on our roads.

More information on JATO can be found here.

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