BMW i3 Outsells Nissan LEAF 3 to 1 in Germany – i3 Knocks Smart ED Out of #1 Spot


BMW i3

BMW i3

With complete registration data now in (KBA PDF in German), we can definitively say that thew BMW i3 has taken over the crown as the #1 selling plug-in vehicle in Germany.

Smart ED

Smart ED

Here’s a look at the Top 5 sales results for January:

  • BMW i3: 159
  • Volkswagen e-Up!: 109
  • Smart ED: 106
  • Nissan LEAF: 71
  • BMW i3 REx: 70

There are a few points worth noting from that Top 5 list.

  • The Nissan LEAF is the only vehicle on the list not made by a German automaker
  • Combined, BMW i3 and BMW i3 REx sales equal 229 – or more than three times the 71 LEAFs sold.
  • The usual top runner, the Smart ED, has been knocked all the way down to 3rd
  • VW e-Up! sales remain relatively strong

The remaining plug-ins sold in lower volume in Germany.  Here’s the rest of the pack:

Renault Zoe Not in the Top 5, But Leads the "Rest of the Pack" Group by a Decent Margin

Renault Zoe Not in the Top 5, But Leads the “Rest of the Pack” Group by a Decent Margin

  • Renault Zoe: 48
  • Volvo V60 PHEV: 32
  • Tesla Model S: 30
  • Opel Ampera: 16
  • Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid: 10
  • Ford Focus EV : 5
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 3
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: 3
  • Kia Soul EV: 2
  • Citroen C-Zero: 2
  • Peugeot Ion: 2
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 1

Hat tip to Surprise Cat!!!

Categories: BMW, Sales

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47 Comments on "BMW i3 Outsells Nissan LEAF 3 to 1 in Germany – i3 Knocks Smart ED Out of #1 Spot"

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Brian Henderson

Wondering if “Sales” in tittle is misleading as the article is based on “registration data”.
Eg: Were the “2 Kia Soul EV”s registered for testing/demos in Germany, or they sold to independent owners? I thought Soul EV would not be on-sale until mid-2014.


You aren’t the only one to wonder:

Suprise Cat

They are likely registered by Kia Motors. It’s not uncommon to see new car models getting registered in small numbers after they have made public, but month before sales start.


Perhaps they refer to these 2x Kia Soul EVs – shown in this video being driven in Sweden by German test engineers with German number plates!?


Those Tesla sales don’t do a lot to support its stock valuation.
Tesla has great technology, which it is vigorously promoting, but IMO its estimation of European sales is way overdone.


that because Tesla only choose deliver 30 cars at Jan in Germany

not they only sell 30 cars in German

btw i3 is a joke compared model s

Bmw will be dead like nokia asap


Tesla sold 2800 in december, then 1000 in january. You just don’t go down to a production rate of almost one third if you have the demand.

30 Teslas is most likely because they didn’t sell more. Nothing to do with them choosing to not deliver. Especially not when they have been focusing on the german market and making a big deal out of selling cars there. They would want any car they could sell out on the german roads to make people try it, discover it and get a feel for it.

It’s a tough market to get into and I highly doubt they will get any numbers before the super charging network is covering almost all of germany. And even then it will be hard since Tesla is no match for the german brands and the german car prices.

Chris O

Actually Model S is often considered a better car with better consumer satisfaction than anything the Germans have on offer. However in the absence of any incentives it might take some time and a functional Supercharger network to convince the Germans .


I know about Tesla and what’s it considered to be. I also know a bit about the german car market. It will be a tough sale…
But then again, once they get there it will be worth it. And if they can sell a decent number of cars on the german market then they can sell them anywhere.


I have bought a lot of cars in my life.
There have always been better cars above what I have bought.
Just because a car is better does not mean people will buy it.
That is the general sales fallacy with Tesla fans. Just because it may be deemed better in some areas does not mean a market like Germany will take them at substantial rates. They will just request their local firms like VW, Audi and BMW to build better ones.

See Through

It irks me a lot when people say ‘Tesla has great technology’ without being able to name a single one! They didn’t invent evs. Electric cars existed 100 years ago. They couldn’t develop any battery tech in 10 years. They have to woo others to come along to give them the battery tech. Tesla cars are lab experiments, packing up laptop batteries in an unsafe housing.

It is useless arguing with tesla fans. Very likely, these are the Tesla employees, who come to these message boards to beat teh drums, so they can sell there options at high prices to buy condos and what not. Assembly lines are slow, so they have time to drum up the company. One big benefit of goign publi cin USA is that the companies can foool lot of people with their ‘dreamy’ outlooks. And then, with help of some money ymanagers, funnel more fo ertirement funds into their own stocks.


Nah, it’s just that Germany has been a latecomer into the EV sales game in general. Among other things, b/c (so I’ve heard) govt. incentives there go to manufacturers not to buyers (protectionism anyone?).

To boot, German autobuyers are loyal to their own domestic makers as the article indicates. So yes, Germany will probably not be the best turf for Tesla sales, but it is not indicative of other European countries.

Now that German automakers have finally made their first main mass-market offerings, I have a feeling we will start seeing way more than ~700 EVs/month sold in Germany.

Besides, Tesla can easily sell cars in the US and elsewhere as well. They are just spreading their eggs into many baskets as part of their plan to become a major global automaker.


There are no government incentives for buyers or manufacturers, at least none tied to sales. I think the incentives to the manufacturers went out a while ago and helped with the development of the i3. After recent reductions in Price the 60kWh Tesla starts at €65,750 in Germany, which is almost $90,000. The difference is mostly due to the 19% VAT and the lack of incentives.

Also, BMW is the first manufacturer that actually does advertisement for their EVs (which irks many current EV owners who think BMW is portraying themselves as the inventor of the EV). My bet is that maybe 3% of Germans have ever heard of the Leaf or Zoe while a lot more have heard of the i3 thanks to BMW’s big marketing push.

George B

Thank you for setting the record straight. I always thought that BMW’s largest contribution to the field of EVs will come from their marketing budget, and their talented sales team. I think they could sell ice to Eskimos!


Renault did run two TV-spots several times for the ZOE. The one with the noise-protection-wall getting teard down and one with two famous german TV-hosts. They where broadcasted at primetime like BMW does for i3 and i8. Of course the BMW-spot looks much more sophisticated and they say clearly what it is about.


Don’t read too much into 1 months of sales. They are still supply constrained and have to choose where to ship the available vehicles.


all eu car makers will be like their phone makers

They will be dead asap


Coda, Fisker, Think !, Better Place…, they was americans.


yeah moto is also america

but where eu’s phone maker lol


you are a Troll, a Troll with phone.


Well… the company that sells the second most phones in the world is European, it’s still Nokia. Selling twice as many phones as number three on the list, Apple.

But then again…any idiot could make a cell phone…

Ev fan

wtf Nokia is eu company!!!

It is a dead useless trash which sold to msft


You don’t have a american phone, all are MADE IN CHINA.


Interesting that German buyers, at least for now, seem to prefer the BEV i3 over the REx.

Do we have numbers from Norway on the BEV/REx breakdown there so far?


It’s likely 100% since the REx is not sold in Norway.


what’s the difference between i3 without rex and leaf? just much more expansive

bmw is a joke

Andrew K

Carbon Fiber.
New vehicle platform.
Four seats.
More horsepower.

And finally.

BMW badge. (as Clarkson once said, “worth it’s weight in myrrh”)

This really can’t be said enough. It’s a BMW product. There are whole groups of people who bought a 2nd/3rd gen. Prius with all the options ticked and now instead of stepping down to a Nissan( who, and lets be honest here, makes some pretty cheap cars) can now have a premium brand while saving the planet. Thus, the i3 will be big.

Big Solar

I hope it is big but German cars are crap in my estimation. I believe that is why you never see old BMWs or Mercedes on the road and why so many people lease them…


Crap? It’s hard to get better cars… Almost only the japanese cars and Volvo even play in the same division.
The Koreans are getting there and the Spanish/Italian/British have their moments. American/french often occupy some kind of mid to lower western standards with some exceptions of smaller brands that can be really high up.


More differences … the Leaf’s defective battery design and beauty-challenged exterior.

Chris B

I’m not sure the i3 isn’t in a glass house throwing stones when it comes to talking about being “beauty challenged”. I had sort of convinced myself the i3 was OK loooking in a quirky sort of way, but a recent trip to the Dallas auto show where I saw it next to tons of other truly nice looking cars (including much of BMW’s own product line) brought me back to reality. If you doubt me…take the electric drive-train out of this car…does anyone go to bat for it and “defend” its’s looks…didn’t think so.


I see your point. To my eyes, The i3 is just unattractive, but the leaf is actually repulsive.



The EV sales blog has a completely different picture for Smart ED, claiming 300 units for January.

The other models have numbers very similar to yours (except the e-Up, you have 109 and he has only 75). Can you look into it?

Eric Loveday

He has estimates for several of the figures. We have “actual.” He’ll probably correct now that official figures are out.


Thanks Eric!

Good news for citizen journalism – bad news for Smart ED, I guess 🙂


One comment:

The Leaf is optically not accepted by a lot of people here.

In 2013 more ZOEs have been sold than Leafs in Germany. But ZOE shippings just startet in July, where the Leaf was already 6 Months in the market.

But no “ZOE outsold Leaf in Germany despite 6 Months fewer time on market” Headline.

Always the same.

Here some stats for Headlines. An interesting Market is also D-A-CH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) which resrespents almost 100% the German speaking Market in Europe.

Have Fun !


Perhaps the “no headlines” is due to the Zoe not being sold worldwide.


A lot of cars are not sold worldwide.

Tesla is another example. But who cares ?
The article referes to the German Market. No worldwide mentioned anywhere.



I am from Germany and i can say you why i3 is in front!

90 % (i guess so) of all people think the i3 is the FIRST and the ONLY Electric Vehicle.
99 % don’t know what is a NIssan Leaf and other foreign EV’s.

In the last days some articles about Tesla were in the press, thats good but to less. I think there are much people who could pay & love it, but they don’t test it.

And most press article about electric vehicle are very sceptic in Germany, the Autobild, Auto Motor Sport etc. are payed by gas companies i think! The make a range test in the ALPS in winter. Let the cars cooling out and than they write: only 60 km with Leaf & i3….Tesla was about 220 km in Alps winter conditions. Very typical conditions for a normal drive ;-).


Yeah, with Audi, BMW, VW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche, Germany has a large ICE auto industry with a long history and many great products. It is not easy to move away from that. The established American automakers have also been slow-movers into EVs (with the exception of the Chevy Volt). It really took Tesla and Nissan to get the EV market rolling. And it is rolling now. The established players are all trying to play catch up.


Well.. some of them are playing catch-up. Others continue to piss on that entire EV thing. See the story on Honda from yesterday.


Well . . . it just hit the market. It will be interesting to see how the i3 does in the coming months.


670 electric cars sold in germany for 80 millions inhabitants.
just 670 e-cars .hahahaha !!!that’s a joke. a shame.


I was thinking that as well, until I realized that the US is roughly the same, with ~2500 EVs sold.

PHVs do fare a little better there though (~3k).


the zoe is not dead and next year 2015 will come the electric twingo
and sales of the zoe will grow now after 6 new renault decisions.
2 new cables for load.
2 new wallboxes etc

George B

I always thought that the i3 was designed to cater to European styling sensibilities. The Golf has topped the German sales charts for a very long time, and AutoBild ranked the i3 higher than the Golf in a recent review.

The efficiency of the i3 caters to the high electricity costs in Germany, and its small exterior is perfect for European cities.

Even the goofy placement of the charging port on the rear quarter panel is geared towards making life in European cities easier. Curbside charging will be far more common in Europe than in the US.

I think VW’s renewed interest in plugins, and the pre-announced Golf GTE might have something to do with the i3. Their Audi division has been going head-to-head with BMW for about a decade now.


5 Smart ED’s or 1 BMW i3

…tough choice…hmmmmm lol