▷ 17.2% fewer auto exports in the 3rd quarter of 2021 than in the same quarter of the previous year

29.11.2021 – 08:00

Federal Office of Statistics


  • Chip shortages and delivery bottlenecks are dampening German car imports and exports
  • Foreign trade in electric cars continues to be strong, decline in particular for combustion engines

German exports and imports of passenger cars fell sharply in the third quarter of 2021. The reasons for this development are likely to be the lack of chips in the automotive industry and other delivery bottlenecks. According to preliminary data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), passenger cars worth 23.1 billion euros were exported from Germany from July to September 2021. That was 17.2% less than in the same period of the previous year. Car imports fell even more sharply at -29.8% compared to the same quarter of the previous year – to 11.2 billion euros.

German car exports and imports in the third quarter of 2021 were thus at their lowest level since the second quarter of 2020, which was particularly marked by corona-related restrictions , 4 billion euros imported. Car exports had previously been lower in the 1st quarter of 2010 (22.7 billion euros), while imports in the 3rd quarter of 2016 (11.1 billion euros) had fallen below the level of the 3rd quarter of 2021.

Growth in electric vehicles, significant declines in cars with internal combustion engines

The decline in both imports and exports is due to cars with internal combustion engines. In the case of purely electric vehicles and so-called mild hybrid vehicles that are not charged by external power sources, however, strong growth was also recorded in the third quarter of 2021: from July to September 2021, 69,800 purely electric vehicles were sold with a value of 2.9 billion euros exported, that was an increase in value of more than a quarter (+26.9%) compared to the same period of the previous year. The increase in imports was even more pronounced: with 59,700 imported electric vehicles worth 1.7 billion euros, the value rose by more than half compared to the previous year (+58.4%). In the same period, 71,200 so-called mild hybrids with gasoline and electric motors were exported for 3.3 billion euros. This value has more than doubled compared to the 3rd quarter of 2020 (+ 126.8%). 29,500 mild hybrids were imported for EUR 0.7 billion (+ 22.4%).

Cars with internal combustion engines still made up the majority of German car exports and imports in 2021, but the trend was sharply downward. In the three most important cubic capacity classes for cars with combustion engines, a total of 254,000 cars with a value of 8.5 billion euros were exported in the third quarter of 2021. This means that exports fell by 44.8% compared to the third quarter of 2020. In the three segments, 213,900 cars with a value of 4.3 billion euros (-49.8%) were imported.

The United States is Germany’s most important trading partner in the auto industry

Most of the cars were exported to the United States in the 3rd quarter of 2021. Cars worth 3.2 billion euros went there (-12.9% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2020). Other important recipient countries were the People’s Republic of China with exports of 2.9 billion euros (-27.2%) and the United Kingdom with 2.0 billion euros (-33.7%).

In terms of imports, the United States was also Germany’s most important trading partner in the automobile market. From there, cars to the value of 1.6 billion euros were imported (-12.6%). In this ranking of the most important importing countries, Spain followed with car imports amounting to 1.2 billion euros (-45.8%) and the Czech Republic with car imports for 0.9 billion euros (-34.9%).

German electric vehicles are particularly popular in the UK

In the third quarter of 2021, most of the all-electric cars exported from Germany went to the United Kingdom (520 million euros; + 68.9% compared to the third quarter of 2020). The second most important customer for electric cars was Norway (383 million euros; -4.0%), followed by the United States (381 million euros; -0.1%).

Electric vehicles imported into Germany were mainly from the United States. From there came electric vehicles worth 366 million euros (+60.0%). Electric vehicles worth 206 million euros (+99.9%) and the Czech Republic for 203 million euros (+36.8%) came from the Republic of Korea.

Methodological notes:

For the three most important car segments with classic combustion engines, the following goods numbers in the list of goods have been combined for the foreign trade statistics: 8703 22 10 cars with petrol engines, 1000-1500 cm3, 8703 23 19 cars with petrol engines, 1500 cm3 – 3000 cm3, 87033219 cars with diesel engines 1500 cm3-2500 cm3.

The complete press release as well as further information and functions are available on the website of the Federal Statistical Office at https://www.destatis.de/pressemitteilungen to find.

Further information:

Foreign trade,

Phone: +49 611 75 2475,


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Original content by: Federal Statistical Office, transmitted by news aktuell


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