In order to save Volkswagen’s overall annual balance sheet in Germany in 2020, the deliveries of the newly developed ID.3 electric car, which began in September, were not enough – with new registrations falling by 21.3 percent, VW lost even more than the overall market. But this figure hides a remarkably high number of sales of the VW ID.3, as is otherwise the case with Tesla with a peak at the very end of the year: In December 2020, the compact electric car was registered more than 7,000 times in Germany, almost as often as the otherwise very front alternatives Renault Zoe and Tesla Model 3 together.
Renault, Tesla and VW with new records
This can be seen from current figures on the approvals of individual models at the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). This means that as many copies of the VW hopefuls were sold in December as never before in Germany of any electric car. Renault held the previous record with proudly announced 5010 Zoe new registrations in October 2020. Tesla achieved its previous German best of 3065 Model 3 a month earlier. Both were able to outdo themselves again in December 2020. According to KBA, Tesla had 3293 new registrations of the Model 3, Renault’s Zoe came 5349 new on German roads.
But neither of them came close to the 7144 new approvals for the VW ID.3. At the same time, the VW electric car shows a pattern that was previously mainly known from Tesla: In the last month of the year, sales in Germany skyrocketed. In Tesla’s export markets, there is such a final spurt at the end of almost every quarter and even more so every year.
The reasons for this, however, are very different. Tesla has so far produced most of the export electric cars at the beginning of quarters and then sends them on their way to their customers by ship so that they arrive in time to be included in the quarterly delivery figures. VW, on the other hand, is building its ID.3 in Germany, so it does not need long transport routes, so this factor cannot be decisive.
German electric car market in a new dimension
So the fact that Volkswagen had to quickly bring many electric cars to the public in order to reduce the calculated CO2 emissions of its fleet for 2020 in the EU could have played a role. And as with other traditionally organized car manufacturers, that doesn’t have to mean that all of the ID.3s are really already in the hands of customers: unlike Tesla, the sales outlets are legally independent – so if VW dealers buy demonstration vehicles or stock up for other reasons, it can are also included in the registration figures.
There seemed to be a similar effect in late 2020 in the Netherlands, where taxes on electric cars rose sharply in early 2021. There, on a single day in December 2000, VW ID.3s were newly registered, according to reports from leasing companies.
This theory is also supported by the fact that the KBA statistics (as in the Netherlands) already show new registrations of the ID.4 – VW only released the configurator for this ID.3 offshoot in SUV format at the beginning of the new year free. A whopping 2306 copies of this electric car were registered in Germany in December 2020. Not long ago that would have been enough for a record. Even if the VW figures for December may have been pimped up, the German electric car market seems to be growing rapidly to new dimensions thanks to more choice.