German Car Sales In 2009: Up 23 Percent

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Official Kraftfahrtbundesamt data are uncharacteristically late. But Dow Jones Newswire (via has it from two reliable sources that Germany’s new car market rose to 3.8m units in 2009, which would be an increase of 23 percent if it pans out. According to the report, Germans bought 3.8m units in 2009, in 2008 it was 3.09m units.

The increase was powered by the German version of Cash For Clunkers, a.k.a. Abrwrackprämie. German auto wonks have predicted that the market would crash once the Abrwrackprämie is withdrawn. The money stopped flowing in September 2009, but the market powered on. December 2009 registered a small minus of 4.7 percent, according to data published by the German car importer association VDIK. The association confirms the 3.8m unit figure.

Update: Official Kraftfahrtbundesamt statistics have been released. They confirm the reported numbers. 3,807,175 units sold, to be exact. The official statistics (in German) can be downloaded here. Refer to TTAC’s roundup of 2009 sales data for a continuously updated roundup of 2009 sales data from around the world.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Jan 05, 2010

    2009, of course, would be up because of the artificial demand of cash for clunkers. Like you said, in December a minus figure was achieved. Let's see how 2010 pans out. Only then will we see what the German car market is like without cash for clunkers. I'm expecting a big drop. I'm also expecting the same for the UK. On a side note, I remember "RTL", I used to watch it on satellite TV. Didn't understand a bloody word, but I tried my best. I also remember "Sat 1" and "Pro Sieben".

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Jan 05, 2010

    There will definitely be a drop in unit sales. 3.8m is an act against nature in the German market. 3m is about right. A lot of small and cheap cars have been bought by people who usually would never buy a new car, and who probably never will buy a new car again. I think Germany will go back down to its usual 3m level. What will be interesting to watch is whether the larger segments will show life again.

  • Sammy Hagar Sammy Hagar on Jan 05, 2010

    Germany has had a type of reverse "clash for clunkers" program for decades: It's called the TÜV. When your government mandates rigorous "safety" inspections, coupled with escalating taxation for older cars (that aren't really that old), people are "motivated" to purchase new cars more frequently. It's a sort of an under-the-table agreement between the German government & their auto manufacturers; effectively, it ensures that VW-Audi, Daimler & BMW have a steady stream of customers...which in turn keeps over-paid auto assemblers from ending up on the government dole. Win-win protectionism, camouflaged by the pretext of "safety." Note: I'm not completely cynical about the TÜV, considering the sort of crap on our roads and interstates. Downright not to think about it.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Jan 05, 2010

    Sammy: The numbers don't underpin the TÜV conspiracy theory: The average German car is 8.5 years old (meaning, half of the cars on Germany's road are older.) 10 percent are older than 16 years. If you keep you car reasonably in shape, it will pass the TÜV. If it doesn't, it's a road hazard.