skip to Main Content

France 1959: Citroen overtakes Renault to #1 brand, Dauphine breaks production records

A record 396.000 Renault Dauphine are produced in France in 1959.

1959 puts an end to 5 consecutive record years with new locally-produced vehicle sales down 5.9% to 680.666 units. Imports are up 38.1% to 13.704 including 6.887 from Germany, 3.597 from Italy, 1.568 from the UK and 1.218 from the US. But 1959 is also the year French automotive production truly becomes global, with exports shooting up 61% to 602.594 for total deliveries up 16.9% to an all-time record 1.283.260, only the 2nd year above 1 million. This creates some very interesting contrasts between French sales and overall production.

For starters and for the first time since World War II ended, Renault (-13.6%) isn’t the most popular carmaker at home but Citroen (+8.5%) up to a record 32.1% share vs. 27.8%. Renault however easily retains the title of largest producer as we’ll see further down. Simca (+1.1%) is back above Peugeot (-7.8%) to climb onto the podium while Panhard (-29.3%) is in great difficulty but remains #5.

Citroen is the most popular carmaker in France for the first time since the end of World War II.

Perfectly illustrating this year of contradictions, the Renault Dauphine (-4.1%) skids down at home but retains the models top spot, tilting its share above the symbolic 20% mark. However the Dauphine’s real success this year is overseas with exports skyrocketing 109% year-on-year to 264.221, by far the largest export volume by any French car in history. As a result, global Dauphine sales hit a record 391.477 units out of a 395.910 production, also a record for a French nameplate.

The Citroen 2 CV (+10.9%) continues its uninterrupted progress to almost 120.000 sales, getting closer to the Dauphine at home and adding 27.426 exports. The Simca Aronde 7 CV (-14.1%) remains on the podium but exports a lot more (104.363), ahead of the Peugeot 403 (-5.7%), almost as successful outside of France (64.145). The Citroen ID-DS 19 (+6%) climbs back into the Top 5, also exporting a sizeable 25.829 units. The Panhard PL 17 lands directly inside the Top 10.

Previous year: France 1958: Renault Dauphine hits 20% share, Citroen 2 CV above 100.000 sales

Full Year 1959 Top 17 All-brands and Top 75 All-models vs. Full Year 1958 figures below.

This content is for Platinum members only.
Log In Register
Back To Top