2022: Again more classic cars with H-plates registered in Germany

    Berlin, May 24, 2022

    Unabated enthusiasm for classic cars – impressive testimony to the historical development of mobility

    On 1 January 2022, around 648,000 cars with an H license plate or emission class 0098* were registered in Germany. This was the result of a current evaluation of the number of classic cars in Germany by the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and BBE Automotive GmbH based on figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). The number of passenger cars with an H license plate and emission class 0098 increased by around 10% compared to 1 January 2021, from 548,476 to 648,365 units.

    Although a minimum vehicle age of 30 years is a prerequisite for an H license plate, not all cars that are older than 30 years actually have such an H license plate. As of 1 January 2022, the rate was 57.3%. This means that the H license plate rate – although the absolute number of units has increased – has fallen slightly compared to the previous year (59.4% at the time).

    The KBA data include around 56,000 vehicle types. In terms of individual models, the ranking list for vehicles with an H license plate continues to be lead far ahead by the VW Beetle with 43,193 vehicles.

    When looking at the vehicle types combined, the top 10 are as follows: The list is led by the Mercedes-Benz sedans (W123, E-Class) with 43,562 vehicles (H license plate rate 61%). They are just ahead of the VW Beetle with 43,193 vehicles (H license plate rate 78%). The Mercedes-Benz W123 vehicles itself amount to around 17,000 cars, so the proportion of newer sedans represents the majority. The VW buses follow in third place with 29,238 vehicles (H license plate rate: 59%). The Mercedes-Benz SL cars are almost equal with 29,210 vehicles (H license plate rate 81%) in 4th place. The Porsche 911 (911/993/996) is in 5th place with 21,774 vehicles and an H license plate rate of 84%. Close behind is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class with 21,060 vehicles (H license plate rate: 80%) and the VW Golf with 20,483 vehicles and an H license plate rate of 26%. The top 10 are completed by the BMW 3 Series with 15,744 vehicles (H license plate rate 38%), the Mercedes-Benz W201 with 13,861 vehicles (H license plate rate 38%) and the Mercedes /8 with 8,599 vehicles. It has an H license plate rate of 83%.

    With regard to brands, Mercedes-Benz leads the evaluation of vehicles registered with an H license plate with 158,843 units. This corresponds to an increase of 12% compared to the previous year. They are followed by Volkswagen with 125,438 vehicles (+10%), Porsche with 43,261 vehicles (+13%), BMW with 37,006 vehicles (+19%) and Opel with 27,370 vehicles (+8%).

    German manufacturers most popular

    A look at the manufacturers shows: 68% of the cars with an H license plate bear the brand of a German manufacturer, a total of around 440,000 units. This corresponds to an increase of 1% compared to the previous year. Very clearly behind are classic cars from the USA (8%) as well as from England and Italy, which each make up 7% of the stock of cars with H license plates.

    VDA President Hildegard Müller: "People's enthusiasm for classic cars is unbroken. Classic cars are impressive testimony to the historical development of mobility since the invention of the car in 1886 and testimony to the performance of our members. Owners and viewers often associate very special personal memories with the classic car. This also makes the vehicle emotionally valuable for them and is part of the ongoing enthusiasm for classic cars."

    Müller continued: "The VDA is committed to ensuring that classic cars are allowed to drive on public roads on an equal footing with non-classic cars. This must also be possible in the future, especially given that around 1% of the vehicle population is taken into account and the generally very low annual mileage."

    Detailed graphics (most common models, most common brands, H license plate development, manufacturer countries) are available for download here.

    * The emission class 0098 corresponds to the number reported in the past as an H license plate. In previous years, the VDA reported the H license plates in the KBA inventory. As a result of a change in definition by the KBA on 1 January 2020, an explanation of the comparability of the previous year's values makes sense at this point: Vehicles older than 30 years can be recognized as classic cars with a corresponding expert opinion in accordance with Section 23 StVZO. Vehicles that have been recognized as classic cars can also be given a special license plate (historical license plate). In the official KBA statistics, only those vehicles are shown as classic cars that are recognizable as such in the central vehicle register. This is the case if owners have the emission class changed accordingly when registering their officially recognized classic car – with or without the allocation of a historical license plate. However, they can also have a historical registration number entered for their officially recognized classic car without changing the emission class. Officially recognized and registered classic cars without the corresponding identification features (specific emission class, historical number plates) are not shown as such in the official statistics. Using the example of the figures for 1 January 2020, it can be explained that around 65% of the vehicles previously reported as having an H license plate can be identified as classic cars by the H license plate and 32% only by the emission class 0098. The other vehicles are not clearly assigned in the KBA data.

    Press Office

    Eva Siegfried

    Spokesperson with focus on economics