German passenger car market gains in 2015
The year 2015 was a happy one for the passenger car market in Germany. Growth was recorded in eleven of the twelve months – sometimes at double-digit rates. This continues a trend from the recent past, as demand by consumers continues to fall. This drop was more than compensated for by the strong fleet sales. Altogether, 3.2 million new passenger cars were registered in Germany. This is an increase of nearly 6 percent over the previous year. The year started off very promisingly. In the first quarter, sales grew by more than 6 percent. After six months, the gain dropped slightly to 5 percent. A strong spurt at the end of the year – a 9 percent gain in November, 8 percent in December – helped the German passenger car market to reach the highest volume since 2009, when the environmental bonus led to high new registration rates.
As in previous years, the result is primarily due to demand from commercial customers. Consumer customers purchased about 1.1 million new vehicles. Private demand thus stagnated at the level of the previous year. The proportion of consumer buyers dropped by 34 percent. New commercial registrations, in contrast, rose by nearly 9 percent for the entire year. Their share is currently at the highest level ever, at almost 66 percent. More than half the commercial registrations are for company cars. This makes it clear that a shift in demand has taken place. The increasing popularity of company cars has contributed to a corresponding drop in consumer demand for new cars in recent years.
The stronger demand from fleet customers is also responsible for the higher sales of vehicles with diesel powertrains. They rose by 6 percent in 2015, somewhat more than demand for vehicles with gasoline engines (a 5 percent gain). This put the diesel proportion of all new passenger car registrations at 48 percent (previous year: 47.8 percent). The share of gasoline engines among new registrations, in 2015 dropped slightly to 50.3 percent (previous year: 50.5 percent).
Despite low fuel prices, sales of electric cars increased greatly again in 2015. New registrations of electrically powered passenger cars rose by 79 percent over the previous year, to 23,500 units. Sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEV) were particularly dynamic. Demand for these vehicles increased by 142 percent to 11,100 units. The share of plug-in hybrids among total electric registrations thus rose to 47 percent (2014: 35 percent). New registrations of purely battery-powered electric passenger cars (BEV) increased by 45 percent to 12,400 units. Despite strong growth, the share of electric vehicles among all new passenger car registrations in Germany was very small, at 0.7 percent. From 2008 to 2015, over 50,000 electric passenger cars have now been registered in Germany. More than 63 percent of these were purely electrically powered.