By on June 2, 2011

According to lore, Germany’s autobahn is teeming with S-Class, Porsches, and the occasional Veyron mixed in. Not so, says Germany’s Über-DMV, the Kraftfahrtbundesamt, in an article about the 50 top selling cars in Germany of 2010. “Upper class and sports cars are not in the Top 50,” say Germany’s keepers of car data. The truth is in the following table.

Germany’s Top 50
Rank Make & model Segment Units 2010 Share Diesel
1 VW GOLF, JETTA Compact Class 251,078 8.6% 35.4%
2 VW POLO Small Cars 96,945 3.3% 18.1%
3 OPEL ASTRA Compact Class 72,685 2.5% 27.7%
4 MERCEDES C-KLASSE Middle Class 71,871 2.5% 55.1%
5 BMW 3ER Middle Class 67,643 2.3% 68.8%
6 VW PASSAT Middle Class 66,496 2.3% 82.6%
7 OPEL CORSA Small Cars 65,304 2.2% 5.0%
8 AUDI A3, S3 Compact Class 63,466 2.2% 45.1%
9 AUDI A4, S4 Middle Class 59,863 2.1% 76.8%
10 BMW 1ER Compact Class 55,353 1.9% 53.9%
11 MERCEDES E-KLASSE Upper Middle Class 54,111 1.9% 73.9%
12 FORD FOCUS Compact Class 53,720 1.8% 36.2%
13 FORD FIESTA Small Cars 51,598 1.8% 10.5%
14 MERCEDES A-KLASSE Compact Class 51,579 1.8% 27.6%
15 SKODA FABIA Small Cars 48,609 1.7% 11.3%
16 BMW 5ER Upper Middle Class 46,014 1.6% 81.9%
17 VW TOURAN Van 45,684 1.6% 63.2%
18 SKODA OCTAVIA Compact Class 42,946 1.5% 54.8%
19 VW TIGUAN SUV 38,687 1.3% 66.6%
20 MERCEDES B-KLASSE Minivan 37,526 1.3% 39.9%
21 VW TRANSPORTER, CARAVELLE Utility 36,691 1.3% 99.4%
22 OPEL MERIVA Minivan 31,741 1.1% 12.5%
23 BMW Mini Small Cars 31,477 1.1% 14.1%
24 HYUNDAI I 30 Compact Class 30,498 1.0% 22.8%
25 AUDI A6, S6 Upper Middle Class 30,079 1.0% 88.3%
26 VW CADDY Utility 30,005 1.0% 68.0%
27 SMART FORTWO Mini 29,065 1.0% 14.9%
28 OPEL INSIGNIA Middle Class 28,208 1.0% 76.6%
29 RENAULT MEGANE Compact Class 27,465 0.9% 40.6%
30 BMW X1 SUV 26,634 0.9% 82.9%
31 NISSAN QASHQAI Minivan 24,148 0.8% 33.8%
32 PEUGEOT 207 Small Cars 23,994 0.8% 18.8%
33 FIAT PANDA Mini 23,638 0.8% 5.5%
34 SEAT IBIZA, CORDOBA Small Cars 23,570 0.8% 11.8%
35 AUDI A5, S5 Middle Class 23,415 0.8% 54.6%
36 RENAULT CLIO Small Cars 23,333 0.8% 5.3%
37 AUDI Q5 SUV 23,148 0.8% 85.9%
38 RENAULT SCENIC Minivan 22,677 0.8% 53.9%
39 TOYOTA YARIS Small Cars 20,811 0.7% 5.0%
40 OPEL ZAFIRA Van 20,750 0.7% 37.7%
41 FORD MONDEO Middle Class 20,304 0.7% 76.3%
42 RENAULT TWINGO Mini 19,648 0.7% 1.9%
43 SEAT ALTEA, TOLEDO, LEON Minivan 18,668 0.6% 24.8%
44 FIAT 500 Mini 17,707 0.6% 5.0%
45 NISSAN MICRA Small Cars 17,689 0.6% 1.5%
46 DACIA SANDERO Compact Class 16,835 0.6% 7.7%
47 HYUNDAI I 10 Mini 16,703 0.6% 0.1%
48 CITROEN C3 Small Cars 16,619 0.6% 19.0%
49 SKODA SUPERB Middle Class 15,450 0.5% 73.3%
50 PEUGEOT 308 Compact Class 15,376 0.5% 51.7%
Total Top 50 2,047,524 70.2% 42.3%
All registrations 2010 2,916,260 100.0% 41.9%

25 cars made up half of Germany’s  sales last year. The Top 50 account for 66 percent. 42 percent burn oil. Electric cars? Hybrids? Do you see any?


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39 Comments on “What They Really Drive On The Autobahn: Germany’s Top 50...”

  • avatar

    The Germans do have a peculiar habit of supporting local industry, don’t they?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      They have a local industry which makes product worthy of support?

      • 0 avatar

        As a former VW owner, I must disagree.

        The VW ownership experience has gave me a whole new respect for Ford’s late-90s reliability.

        My Jetta was fun to drive, though, when it ran….!

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      For some perspective, have a look at Japanese or Korean import statistics.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I’m surprised the 17 MPG Ford F-150 isn’t higher on the list. That’s only about $0.45 per mile in fuel. And I wonder how that would fit in your average German parking space.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, and the Americans don’t support their local industry? Ever looked around you? How many cars do you see that are from Ford, GM and Chrylser?

      How about the flagrant __________ comments in the American media and local parlance about “domestics” vs. “Asian manufacturers”, the UAW and CAW urging us to buy “local” products and other remarks, even though the “Asians” are just as American as the Detroit Three are?

      It’s easy to criticize others isn’t it?

  • avatar

    Is work plentiful for the German auto mechanic?

  • avatar

    Interesting that Ford seems to do *much* better in the UK.

    Also interesting that the top selling Asian car is a Hyundai – and it doesn’t even make the top 20…

    • 0 avatar

      Is that sarcasm? If not, Ford Europe is UK based

      • 0 avatar

        Not intended as sarcasm, it is interesting to see how much the Golf outsells the Focus in this market. Seems there is a definite home bias in Germany, the Focus may be aging but by all accounts it is class competitive.

        Not sure what Ford Europe’s structure is, but I believe they have a big presence in Cologne.

      • 0 avatar

        True, but UK is more important

      • 0 avatar

        Some of it may be due to national perception. In the UK, Ford is seen as English and the cars are an integral part of popular culture while a VW is obviously foreign. In Germany, it would seem that VW and Opel are perceived as native cars while Fords are not.

    • 0 avatar

      You skipped past the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Micra.

    • 0 avatar

      There were originally two, distinct divisions to Ford’s European operations. One was based in Great Britain, and made cars for that market, and the other was based in Germany, and made cars for Germany and the continent. They often made entirely different vehicles for the same segment.

      This changed in the 1960s, when Henry Ford II gave the order to merge the operations – including vehicle development. The first two vehicles developed under the new merged operation were the first Escort and the “mini-Mustang” Capri.

      Great Britain may be “important” to the company in the sense that Ford is stronger in that market, but Ford develops European cars with both Great Britain and the continent in mind.

      The lower sales of the Focus compared to the Golf and the Astra probably stem from the fact that Germans view both VW and Opel more as more “pure” German brands than Ford, not any shortcomings of the Focus, or Ford’s lack of effort regarding Germany.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think it has to do with a perception of nationalism towards Opel and VW compared to Ford. I think Ford simply made less competitive cars than the other two in the past – when I was living in Germany in the 1980s, most Fords on the market were simply not as good as the offerings from VW and Opel.

  • avatar

    Still pretty sweet cars roam the streets in pretty large numbers (both percentagewise and in absolute terms). I guess this is pretty much what the car park in the Netherlands would look like if it weren’t for the massive extra taxes we have to pay on cars.

    Also, kind of funny to see the first car that isn’t in any way related to Germany (either by manufacture, brand, or brand ownership) show up in a respectable 23rd place.

    • 0 avatar

      Volkswagen Polo is IIRC the marketleader in Holland which says a lot about taxes. But taxes are so high because there are no car factories in Holland.

  • avatar

    Do you have any break out numbers for the Jetta and Golf, or only combined?

    It does appear that German definitely roots for the home team there.

  • avatar

    I cannot believe that for every one Ford Focus sold, 50 Golf/Jettas are sold. After all, the Ford is German, too.

    • 0 avatar

      Prett sure that stat is wrong since the market share percentage doesn’t add up.

      It’s more likely that’s it 5 Golfs for every Focus, which is still a lot. The Focus being long in the teeth probably accounts for some of that but then still, the Golf is really the people’s car in Germany (and it’s top of the charts in the Netherlands as well, and probably some other countries adjacent to Germany).

      It’s a pretty decent car and has a good reputation for reliabilty. Europeans define reliability as that you can count on the car not to bankrupt you when it breaks down or needs service (that’s my theory anyway), rather then how many times it breaks down. Japanese cars are usually more expensive to service over here, so even if they break down less you still spend more cash at the dealership.

      Also, because ‘everyone’ wants to have one, resale value is pretty high, which means everyone wants to have one…etc etc.

  • avatar

    The Jetta/Golf/Polo numbers are very impressive, but look at the Astra as well! The Astra hatch still catches my eye whenever I see one around here. There’s something about that car that I always liked.

    There must be a German connection somewhere in my past (probably on the English side–Irish/English).

  • avatar

    “Electric cars? Hybrids? Do you see any?”

    Looks like a huge dose of “Not Invented Here” at work. The Germans buy German cars and the German manufacturers are so heavily invested in Diesel they won’t be happy until everyone needs to walk around with their own oxygen tank like a 90 year old chain smoker.

  • avatar

    Looking at the percentage of diesel cars, another reason for the Japanese being underrepresented – Aside from Ze Germans leaning towards the local brands – is that Japan seriously lacks in diesel offers. Every EU model is offered with variety of diesels, while a Japanese is lucky to have one. The trend started to change only recently, but it will take time to adjust the numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      I seriosly doubt that’s the case. First, all possible diesel needs ARE offered by the Asian brands. Second, the most likely cause is the cost, since most Euro cars are made right there, and have price and maintanence cost advantages.

      It pretty much corellates with every Euro country. It does not take a genius to figure out why every other car in Spain for example, is a SEAT, or why France is full of Citroen cars.

    • 0 avatar

      THe Japanese brand used to build diesel everyything but if you want performance diesel look to France not Germany

  • avatar

    Before I even clicked on the article I knew the answer and I have never even been to Germany. The Golf really is that popular.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know who would think that Germany is full of high-end Porsches and Beemers. Even a lowly Golf costs and arm and a leg.

      Was walking by a Ford dealership in Madrid, it was funny to see a used Focus at 24K Euros.

  • avatar

    Last year, I had a BMW 118d 5-door rental for 2 weeks in Germany. I know why it’s in the top 10 on that list.

    It’s a phenomenal little car. 1.8L turbo diesel, 6-speed manual, RWD, power everything… it was perfect. 500 year old, cobblestone streets were a piece of cake to navigate. So was the Autobahn, keeping pace with the Uberklasse at 170ph for an hour or two.

    And even though we spent hours every day in the car, driving all over from Frankfurt to Zurich, I only needed to fill up once in two weeks. Without looking at the pictures again, I remember it cost less than €60 to fill the tank that one time.

    I haven’t bought a new car since 1996, but I would buy a 118d this weekend, were it made available Stateside. It’s the one new car that would get my wife and I into a dealership.

  • avatar

    My daughter was over there a few years ago (military spouse) with her Ford Escape, and it barely fit in the garage of the place they were renting. She stayed around 85 on the Autobahn – the handling got iffy if she went faster.

    Yes, one of the guys had a F150. I saw it parked on the street when I visited. I’m sure that one never fit in any garage. My daughter had to park in an oversized spot just to get us at the Frankfurt airport, even with the Escape.

    Needless to say, they were not paying local gas prices.

    In my day, I knew a few guys who brought American cars to Japan. Even with the gas prices on base, they were nothing I’d want to drive on those little roads. Driving on the left didn’t help the cause either. Almost everybody, me included, drove local beaters.

  • avatar

    Been on the autobahn a few times. It does not differ much from its siblings in France or Italy, except that parts of it are not speed regulated. Most of the traffic moves at about 60 to 80 mph regardless of speed limits, much as in the states. And like the Philadelphia area where I am, there are alot of traffuc jams.

    Differences – NO ONE hogs the passing lane, EVER. There is much less tailgaiting too. I’m not really sure why. Occasionally someone zooms past in a car – not necessairily a car that should be going that fast – again, much like I-95. I am not sure, someone told me that trucks are speed regulated at about 60 mph.

    There are a ton of Golfs there. These are considered “normal” sized cars. My impression is that there were more French cars in the south. Could be wrong tho.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      There is less tailgating because there are vastly fewer people hogging the left lane.

      This chart agrees with my own observations about the autobahn, too. Yes, there is the occasional Mercedes or BMW going very fast, but for every one of those, there are at least 10 VW Golf non-turbo diesels, Opel Astra 1.2’s, and Ford Mondeos towing camper-trailers. Nobody drives pick-up trucks. Businesses use vans. When regular people need to move more stuff than their car will take, they tow a trailer.

      Transport-trucks are governed to 90 km/h, are restricted to the right lane only, and it seems like there are fewer of them on the roads than here. The rail transport system is very good …

      • 0 avatar
        H. Koppinen

        You are certainly mistaken about the diesel Golfs not being turbo-charged. At least on the used market, as seen on, turbo-diesel Golfs outnumber non-turbo ones 29000 to 450.

  • avatar

    I wish we had trucks restricted to the right lane here. There is nothing more irritating than truck A at 56mph trying to pass truck B at 55.5mph in a 65 zone.

  • avatar

    I’m surprise to see diesel take rates less than 50% for FY2010. Has it always been the case in the past?

  • avatar

    Very interesting figures. Hybrids – several vehicles in the top 50 offer hybrid variants, but I bet they don’t sell many.

    Regarding the patriotism, which would be hard to equal in any other open market, are there any other foreign branded cars other than the Focus & Fiesta that are built in Germany? While the largest selling (purely) imported car is the 15th ranked Skoda Fabia.

    What does surprise me though is the VW Transporter with only 36k sales which indicates a fairly small proportion of the market being light commercial vehicles. By comparison the Toyota Hilux sells more than that in Australia with 1/3 the market volume but nearly 20% LCV’s (I am combining vans and pickups, which would be a negligible volume in Germany and the opposite of Australia). There were 1630 Transporters sold here last year.

  • avatar

    I remember living in Brussels, Belgium a few years back for awhile. Everyone drives a compact hatch. A hatch’s layout is the most usability you can get out of such a volume as fits their streets, taxes, and operating costs. Americans really aren’t that different in ‘practicality’ of layout if not scale. They just drive hog-hatches and call them ‘crossovers’ at this point. I mean, they don’t even pretend to be trucks anymore…just oversized AWD blob-wagons with a lift-kit.

    But I don’t get the Golf-thing. Might be German, might be pretty neat little car in various trim, but there’s so many cars in that space. And its not like anyone else gobbles them up like that because of some universal, intrinsic quality about Golfs, even amongst dedicated compact car buyers.

  • avatar

    I ‘m jealous of how many choices Deutsch have over us.

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