First time ever: over 500,000 classic cars with H-plates in Germany

    Berlin, July 22, 2020

    Passenger cars with H-plates increase by 11 percent

    On January 1, 2020, for the first time ever, more than 500,000 passenger cars with H-plates (denoting “historic” vehicles) were registered in Germany. Their number rose from 474,516 on January 1, 2019, to 525,968 one year later, which equates to growth of 11 percent. The total number of all classic vehicles on Germany’s roads, including motorcycles and commercial vehicles, also added 11 percent and reached 595,046 units. These are the results of the latest evaluation of Germany’s classic vehicle statistics by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the firm BBE Automotive GmbH, based on figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

    VDA President Hildegard Müller stressed, “Classic cars bear a striking testament to the historical development of mobility. They continue to enjoy great popularity among young and old alike, as demonstrated not only by the many and – before corona – well attended classic car meetings in Germany and Europe, but also by the increase in passenger cars with H-plates. As classic cars also serve the ‘preservation of our motor-vehicle heritage’ in accordance with the German Vehicle Registration Ordinance, we continue to work intensively on allowing classic cars to run on public roads without restrictions. Even if they no longer correspond to the latest technical standards, they are genuinely part of our cultural history, mostly with a very low annual mileage.”

    A review of the last ten years shows that the number of classic cars with H-plates has grown significantly, yet they account for only about 1 percent of the total passenger car fleet.

    The rankings are still headed by the VW Beetle. In all, 39,758 Beetles with H-plates were on German roads at the end of 2019. Second place again goes to the Mercedes-Benz W123, on 21,929 vehicles. Third place is taken by the Mercedes-Benz R107, followed by the Porsche 911 (fourth), the Mercedes-Benz W124 (fifth) and Mercedes-Benz’ Stroke-Eight (sixth). Seventh place again goes to Volkswagen’s type T3 and T4 buses, followed by the BMW 3-Series in eighth place. The top ten models make up 30 percent of all vehicles with H-plates in Germany.

    Among the brands, Mercedes-Benz comes first (with 127,112 vehicles). It is followed by Volkswagen with 101,197 classic passenger cars, Porsche (34,975), BMW (25,831) and Opel on 24,069 classic cars. The top five brands therefore account for 60 percent of the total.

    Overall, more than two out of three cars with H-plates bear the badge of a German manufacturer (353,369 units). They are followed by classic cars from the US (8.3 percent), England (8.1 percent) and Italy (nearly seven percent, or 35,698 units).

    H-plates were introduced in 1997 to protect Germany’s motor-vehicle heritage. To qualify for these plates, a vehicle must be at least 30 years old and largely unaltered since it was first delivered. It must also be kept in good condition.

    The VDA regularly evaluates the figures from the KBA. The association continues to work on securing the policies necessary to allow classic cars to run on German roads as part of our motor-vehicle heritage.

    Detailed diagrams (most popular models, most popular brands, trends over the last ten years, countries of origin) can be downloaded here.

    Graphics H-Plates for Download