Are EV sales growing enough?

There have been different signs lately about the EV market. Of course, sales are usually still rising, and the growth percentages can be impressive, but the real booming seems already over, and in absolute figures, there’s still a long way to go.

One has to be careful when the emphasis is on percentages and the absolute figures are somewhere hidden or even completely absent. An obvious example is the very small niche manufacturer that boasts about its 200% increase, and it appears that he has sold 6 cars instead of 2.

Of course, there are still successful EV stories to tell. We talked about the Volvo and Polestar figures recently, and now BMW and Mercedes published their results for the third quarter of 2023.


The BMW Group sold 93 931 all-electric cars from the BMW and Mini brands in the third quarter, representing a 79,6% increase in sales compared to the same period last year. The BMW brand performed particularly well.

BMW delivered 83 211 BEVs between July and September, almost exactly twice as many (+100,3%) as in the same period last year. Mini managed 10,720 BEV deliveries in the third quarter, 0,4% less than in the same period last year. However, the Mini brand is currently in the midst of an electric transformation: the new generation of the Mini Cooper is coming, as is the successor to the Countryman, for the first time also sold as a BEV.

Across all drive types, the BMW Group, with its BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce brands, sold 621 699 vehicles in Q3. This means that the 93 931 fully electric cars correspond to a group-wide EV share of 15,1%. At the BMW brand (549 941 sales in total), the electric vehicle share is also 15,1%.

The figures quoted so far are purely for battery-electric vehicles. The BMW Group reports sales of “electrified vehicles” (including both BEVs and PHEVs) for the third quarter at 139 943 units. With the known BEV sales deducted, this leaves 46 012 plug-in hybrids. The ratio of BEVs to PHEVs is, therefore, now 2:1. In the full year 2021, for example, it was still the other way round.

… and Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz Cars’ electric car sales reached 61 600 units in the third quarter, up 66% compared to the same quarter last year. BEV sales were driven primarily by the more affordable models.

According to Mercedes Benz, the two smallest electric cars with the star, the EQA, and EQB, remained “real sales hits”, probably also because of the model update in August.

In the case of the EQA, the growth compared to Q3 2022 was 108%; the EQB was able to increase by 96%, so, in both cases, sales have virtually doubled. However, the Stuttgart-based company does not state the absolute sales figures for the two models.

Sales at Smart, now with an all-electric portfolio, have also more than doubled, with an increase of 107%. In the third quarter of 2023, 3 900 Smarts were sold, which is currently only the electric SUV #1.

Across all drive types, Mercedes Benz Cars was at 510 600 vehicles in Q3 2023, a minus of -4%. The electric share, including Smart, is 12,0%.


In the States, Ford is very proud of being the number one American brand in Q3 and boasts about its EV sales in the third quarter of 2023.

“Ford’s Q3 EV sales were up 14,8% on best ever sales of 20 962 vehicles. Much of this gain came from strong Mustang Mach-E sales, up 42,5% for the quarter and best since its debut in 2021. E-Transit was the No. 1 selling electric van with its best ever quarterly sales results of 2 617, an 89,8% increase,” says the press release.

Ford hybrid sales, led by F-150 and Maverick hybrid trucks, posted Q3 sales of 34 861 vehicles, up 41,4 percent over last year. As America’s best-selling hybrid truck, F-150 Hybrid sales expanded 46,9% on sales of 12 311 trucks. So, hybrids are still growing faster than BEVs and sell almost double compared to them.

So, although the Ford EV figures may increase, they’re still peanuts compared to the total sales of the Ford Group when one sees that the Bronco model (non-electric) has sold 66,120 times and that the F-Series sold 190 477 times in the same period.


Stellantis sent us a proud message that they were the number one BEV seller in Germany in September, representing a market share of 23% and having three of their models in the BEV top five: Opel Corsa Electric in second place, the Fiat 500e was third and the Opel Mokka Electric fourth.

Together, they sold 7 300 units in September in Germany, which means that total BEV sales were 31 714 units, down 28,6% compared to last year and representing 14,1% of the total market. In August, it was still 31,7% of the new car market, but there’s an explanation for this.

From the beginning of September, only private buyers are still eligible for BEV incentives, creating a flood of orders in August and a severe drought in September. Apparently, without incentives, businesses in Germany were either no longer prioritizing all-electric, or they already bought an electrified car before.

Like in Belgium, commercial and company cars represent two-thirds of the total market, and sales are still increasing (+5,7%), while private registrations fell by 10,3%. It is clear that incentives still play a big role in the purchase of an electrified car: when subsidies for PHEVs were withdrawn at the beginning of 2023 in Germany, their sales continued to fall (-45,7% in September compared to last year).

Mixed feelings

The car bosses, especially in Germany, seem to have mixed feelings about BEV sales. The signs are there: Volkswagen Group, for example, is struggling with its BEV production and recently let people go at the Zwickau factory and decided not to produce the planned Q4 e-tron at Audi Brussels at the moment.

September’s difficult results confirm the suspicions of Germany’s automotive industry representatives. Thomas Peckruhn, Vice President of ZDK, the association of the German automotive industry: “We see now happening what we’ve already forecasted months ago. The manufacturers’ backlogs of deliveries have largely been reduced, and the demand for new vehicles is low, especially in the private sector.”

In a survey, the IFO Institute (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the Munich University) confirms this gloomy outlook. “German car manufacturers and suppliers are satisfied with the current situation, but their expectations are still at rock bottom,” said Oliver Falck, Director of the Center for Industrial Organization and New Technologies.

“On the one hand, the structural shift to electromobility means fewer workers will be needed, while on the other hand, the shortage of skilled workers will make it increasingly difficult to recruit personnel,” he added.





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