Germany 1950: VW Beetle, Bus and Fiat Topolino on top

VW Beetle

* Many thanks to Florian for making this post possible! *

In 1950 German consumers bought 223,900 new cars, up 65% on 1949. The VW Beetle continues to progress and sells 50,562 units for a 22.6% market share.

Fiat Topolino

The Fiat Topolino sells 3,123 units while the VW Type 2 or Kombi/Bus launches this year and sells 2,117 units for its first year.

VW Kombi

Notice also the Renault 4CV at 1,760 sales, the Traction Avant at 393 and the Tatra T600 at 88.

Full Year 1950 Ranking Table below.

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France 1949: Renault 4CV ramps up

Renault 4CV

Presented at the 1946 Paris Motor Show, the Renault 4CV started its production in August 1947 and 37,000 units had been sold by mid-1949, making it the most popular car in France. It was nicknamed ”La motte de beurre” (the lump of butter) due to its shape and colour: early deliveries used surplus paint from the German Afrika Korps Army vehicles which were a sand-yellow color.

This is all the information I have for this period in France so if you have more details please make sure to get in touch by commenting on this post!

Australia 1948-1949: Austin A40 dominates sales

Austin A40

I have very little information about the Australian car market over the period, only that the locally assembled Austin A40 is the best-selling model in the country in 1948 and 1949 just before the Holden cranked up its production.

If you have more information please make sure to get in touch!

Next post: Australia 1949-1959: Holden ‘Australia’s own’ launches

Source: Wheels magazine March 2012

Germany 1946-1949: Volkswagen brings the car to the people

The VW Beetle was originally named KdF-Wagen

* Many thanks to Florian for making this post possible! *

The VW Beetle (Kaefer in German) was first called ‘Type 1’ and lead the models ranking during the second half of the forties, when production ramped up. Originally launched in 1938, the first 1,785 units of the model were produced in 1945 and by March 1946 the Wolfsburg factory produced around 1,000 units every month. The Beetle sold 8,184 units in Germany in 1948 and 32,557 in 1949.

Source: Wikipedia, many thanks to Florian for sharing the data!

France 1948: Last year of reign for the Citroen Traction Avant

Citroen 2CV France 1948The Citroen 2CV is unveiled at the 1948 Paris Auto Show.

* See the Top 24 brands production ranking by clicking on the title! *

Finally a frank year of growth for the new car market in France: up 64% overall to 120,557 registrations, including 50,253 cars and buses, a 4-fold improvement on 1947, and 70,304 trucks, up 27%. Only production figures by brand are available for now for 1948 and based on these my estimation is that the Citroen Traction Avant leads the models sales charts in France for the last time in 1948, before the Renault 4CV really ramps up in 1949 and most significantly before the 2CV, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show this year, becomes the brand’s best seller in the early fifties.

Citroen Traction Avant France 1938Citroen Traction Avant

Renault keeps the lead of the manufacturers ranking with 67,576 vehicles produced in 1948 (+56%), stepping away from Citroen at 42,785 (+48%) and Peugeot at 33,414 (+27%). However Citroen is the most prolific private cars manufacturer once again at 34,164 units (+49%) ahead of Renault and Peugeot. Notice the Top 6 manufacturers production ranking unchanged vs. 1947 with Simca in 4th place above Ford SAF and Berliet while Panhard overtakes Hotchkiss to rank 7th and Delahaye Delage and Chenard et Watcker rounding out the Top 10 like in 1947.

Full Year 1948 Top 24 brands Ranking Table below.

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France 1947: Citroen Traction Avant & Renault Juvaquatre on top

Renault Juvaquatre France 1947Renault Juvaquatre (pre-war model shown)

* See the Top 24 best-selling models and Top 23 brands by clicking on the title! *

In 1947 like in 1946, the large majority of vehicles produced in France were exported, as French consumers simply did not have the means (yet) to purchase a new car. As a result the French new car market is not very dynamic at 62,366 registrations (-8%) of which only 12,105 are  private cars (+107%) and 46,968 trucks (-21%). This situation would change drastically from 1948 onwards. 1947 is the first year a ranking by models is made possible by data published on French newspaper L’Argus. At the time, ‘deliveries’ were divided between metropolitan clients, French overseas territories (aka colonies) and exports.

Simca 8 France 1947Simca 8

The data itself is not exactly split by model but by fiscal power, which in actual fact describes a single model in most cases. At this little game and only taking into account Private Cars (“Voitures Particulières”), the Citroen Traction Avant (11 CV) is the winner both with deliveries in France (2,417) and overall (22,305). Add in the (slim) sales figures of the 15 CV variant and its domination is even clearer. In 2nd place we find the Renault Juvaquatre (6 CV) at 2,202 deliveries in France and 17,798 overall, while the Peugeot 202 (6 CV) rounds up the podium at 1,770 and 12,610 deliveries respectively. The Simca 8 is also successful, ranking 4th in overall deliveries. Note the 6th place of the Renault 4 CV in metropolitan France, slowly ramping up at 584 sales.

Delahaye 135 M France 1947Delahaye 135 M

In the manufacturer production ranking, Renault is in the lead with 43,317 units (+54%) ahead of Citroen (+19%), Peugeot (+91%) and Simca (+43%) overtaking the French subsidiary of Ford (+24%) while prestigious lost names like Hotchkiss (#7), Panhard (#8) and Delahaye Delage (#9) all find a way into the annual Top 10, although mainly thanks to lesser-known trucks. Citroen however keeps the pole position in the private car production charts thanks to 22,879 units (+81%) above Renault at 18,966 (+123%) and Peugeot really ramping up at 12,955, a six-fold improvement on its 1946 score… Finally, note Peugeot unveiled the 203 in 1947 which would end up breaking sales records for the brand but won’t appear in the stats until 1948.

Full Year 1947 Top 24 models and Top 23 brands Ranking Tables below.

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Australia 1946: Ford V8 tops post-war sales charts

Ford V8 Australia 1946Ford V8

* See the Top 3 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

This is the oldest available sales data for Australia. Just as World War 2 comes to an end, new cars are not easy – or cheap – to come by and most people are driving around in pre-war vehicle precariously held together. Including the Mercury version, the Ford V8 is the best-selling model in the country and would continue to be so in 1947. The stretched, more powerful Mercury configuration is used by the Police and these flat-head Fords carry a certain amount of middle-class prestige. The Ford V8 distances the Chevrolet and Austin, the latter topping the charts in 1947.

Full Year 1946 figures for the Top 3 best-selling models below.

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France 1946: Renault #1 overall, Citroen Traction Avant potential best-seller

Renault 4CV France 1946Renault launched the 4CV in 1946.

* See the Top 23 All-French producers by clicking on the title! *

1946 is the year the French car industry slowly starts to get back in shape at 96,062 units produced vs. 34,625 in 1945. More significantly, whereas private cars were almost inexistent in 1945 (only Citroen produced any), this year they represent 32% of the total production. However a very particular aspect of the immediate years after the war in France – and one that would not occur ever again, is that in these times of extreme economic stringency, a large majority of the automobile production was destined to overseas territories and export markets. As such, out of almost 100,000 vehicles produced in 1946, there were only 5,846 private cars registered and a total of 67,506 registrations for the year, including 59,701 so-called industrial vehicles, the equivalent of what we call today medium to heavy commercial vehicles.

Citroen Traction Avant Cabrio France 1946Citroen Traction Avant Cabrio

In this context, Renault still leads the overall production ranking with 28,144 units (+144%) including 8,491 private cars, but Citroen is catching up at 24,445 units (+165%), most importantly including 12,654 cars (+730%), allowing the brand the leadership with private consumers. As such I estimate the Citroen Traction Avant to be leading the models sales charts this year. 1946 also marks the unveiling of the Renault 4CV, a model Louis Renault had developed in secrecy during the war and which would take two years to really kick start production.

Licorne 164 LR France 1946Did you know there was a French manufacturer called ‘unicorn’ (La Licorne)?

For its part Peugeot, #3 overall with 13,768 units (+390%) of which 84% are trucks, restarts car production in 1946 with the 202. Ford SAF (8,400 units) and Simca (8,200) round out the Top 5. (Re-)discover also forgotten manufacturers like Unic (#10), Saurer (#11), Chenard et Watcker (#15), Latil (#17), La Licorne (#19), Salmson (#20), Luc Gourt (#21) and Delaunay-Belleville (#22)…

Full Year 1946 Top 23 All-brands Ranking Table below.

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France 1945: Renault tops charts, Citroen first in private cars

Renault AHN. Picture courtesy of leblogauto.comRenault AHN

* See the Top 15 brands by clicking on the title! *

With the end of World War II, the French vehicle production is starting to perk up again, up from a low of 10,000 in 1944 to 34,625 in 1945. However given by 1944 almost all vehicles produced in the country are trucks destined to be used by the German army, logically in 1945 it is the trucks that are the fastest to ‘recover’, only having to switch back to French users. Only 4.5% of vehicles produced in the country in 1945 are private cars, almost all of them (1,525) being Citroens, potentially the Traction Avant. Renault dominates the overall production charts with 12,010 units (including 12,005 trucks) ahead of Citroen (9,200), Ford (4,900), Peugeot (2,800) and Berliet (1,600). All other manufacturers produce less than 1,000 units this year.

Full Year 1945 Top 15 producer Ranking Table below.

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France 1940-1944: Production restricted to (sabotaged) trucks

Renault AHR. Picture courtesy of AHR

During World War II, the new car market in France came to a standstill, and in any case sales were not reported so there is no trace of it now. The only available data is an estimation of vehicle production in the country during the period. France capitulated to Germany in 1940, so most of the production up until 1944 is in actual fact vehicles ordered by the German government to be produced in occupied factories. So this could arguably be counted as ‘German’ production but for the sake of simplicity I have kept these figures in the French updates.

France 1938 1949 production

The production figures show an increasing majority of ‘industrial’ vehicles, which were used for war. There were still 100,000 private cars produced in France in 1940, but this figure crumbled down to just 2,700 in 1942 and 20 in 1943 before lifting slightly to 150 in 1944. Reversely, truck production went from 25,000 in 1940 to 45,700 in 1941 and 36,300 in 1942 before falling as well. All-in-all, only 10,000 vehicles came out of French factories in 1944, equivalent to the production level reached around 1910. Searching into how each French manufacturer handled the German occupation unveils some fascinating stories…

Renault AHR

After the French capitulation in 1940, Louis Renault refused to produce tanks for Nazi Germany which took control of his factories by putting people from Daimler-Benz in key positions. He produced lorries for the German occupiers instead, delivering 32,887 vehicles to the Germans vs. only 1,697 to French clients. According to François Vauvillier’s book L’automobile sous l’uniforme, 4,000 Renault AHN and 2,000 Renault AHR were produced for the German army.

Renault AHS. Picture courtesy of fictionbook.ruRenault AHS

What happened in Renault factories during the war remains to this day highly controversial as it was the basis of the complete expropriation of the company by the French government in 1944 on the official case of collaboration. Louis Renault prevented the Germans from physically moving his factory and equipment to Germany, thus saving its company from displacement and absorption by Daimler-Benz, and put his factories at the service of Vichy France, which in actual fact meant that he was also assisting the Nazis, in a detoured way.

Renault AHR. Picture courtesy of AHR

Renault argued that “by continuing operations he had saved thousands of workers from being transported to Germany.” The Renault factories in Paris became top priority targets for the British bombers of the Royal Air Force and were severely damaged in 1942 notably. Subsequent studies showed that while Renault had collaborated, he also hived off strategic materials and sabotaged trucks by marking dipsticks low for example, and engines dried and seized in action, an outcome much in evidence on the Russian Front.

Peugeot DMA France 1940. Picture courtesy of DMA

Many cars (Peugeot 202 and 402) and light trucks (Peugeot DMA, DK) were produced: between 1941 and 1944 Peugeot delivered to the Germans 12,500 Peugeot DK5, 15,300 Peugeot DMA and about 15,000 Peugeot 202 and 402.

Citroen Type 45Citroen Type 45

In a similar fashion, Citroen produced 32,248 vehicles for Germans and 2,052 for French clients. For example, were produced for the Germans between 1941 and 1944: 3,700 Type 23 trucks, 6,000 Type 32U trucks and 15,300 Type 45 trucks. Citroen president at the time, Pierre-Jules Boulanger refused to meet Dr. Ferdinand Porsche or communicate with the German authorities except through intermediaries, organising a “go slow” on production of trucks for the Wehrmacht, many of which were sabotaged at the factory, by putting the notch on the oil dipstick in the wrong place, resulting in engine seizure…

Full Year 1940-1944 annual Production figures below.

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