In view of the sluggish sales of electric cars, manufacturers are increasingly relying on combustion engines again, according to an expert. They are currently trying to boost sales of petrol and diesel models with high discounts, is the conclusion of Bochum car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer after evaluating the price reductions in March. On average, the discounts that are tempting when buying a new combustion engine are even higher than for electric cars.

In March, according to Dudenhöffer’s information, car buyers could expect an average price reduction of 16.8 percent for combustion engines, while there was only a 16.2 percent discount for electric cars. In the previous month, the discounts for both types of drive were almost the same. For the study, Dudenhöffer determined the discounts that independent new car brokers offer on selected models on the Internet. 15 combustion engine and electric models from eleven manufacturers were examined.

VW tempts with high discounts

The Volkswagen brand in particular increased its discounts on combustion engines in March. The facelift of the Golf, which was introduced in January and is due to be delivered from summer, is already available online at a 17.5 percent discount on the list price. In February, when VW opened its order books, it was only 13.8 percent. Such high discounts are unusual, especially for a new model, says Dudenhöffer. The discount on the Golf is even higher than on the Passat and Tiguan, although it is also significantly higher than in the previous month.

The discount level is therefore closer to that of the VW electric models. There, VW continues to grant slightly higher discounts of up to 21.7 percent for the ID.4. However, the level remained constant compared to February. For the other manufacturers examined, the discounts remained largely constant in March. For most, however, the discounts for combustion engines were already higher than for electric cars in February, Dudenhöffer added.

Combustion engines promise more profits

After the purchase bonus for electric cars in Germany ended at the end of 2023, manufacturers initially significantly increased discounts for electric cars in order to compensate for the loss of the bonus. But there is now a change in thinking, says Dudenhöffer. In view of the overall low demand, the company is trying to stimulate business with the combustion engines that are still prevalent and thus utilize their own plants to capacity.

“The weak car market is taking a turn,” is Dudenhöffer’s conclusion. “Electric cars are also being promoted less among car manufacturers.” Because of the higher profit margins achieved with combustion engines, it is easier for manufacturers to grant discounts. With electric cars, however, after the state new car bonus was abolished, only small profits or even losses could be made. In the current downturn, manufacturers are increasingly relying on combustion engines, which continue to make “good money”.