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France: My forecast for 2013

I predict the Peugeot 208 will be the best-selling car in France in 2013, but just.

* See my forecast for the Top 10 best-selling models in 2013 by clicking on the title! *

After Australia where I live, I will now venture a 2013 best-selling models forecast for France where I grew up, a market I have been following for the last 25 years but that can reserve a lot of surprises so a little more difficult to predict. I see the French new car market drop by another 10% next year to around 1.7 million, its lowest level since 1997. In fact if the fall is greater than 10% in the first half of the year, the Hollande goverment will be tempted to put in place yet another scrappage scheme to try and reverse the trend. This would impact the best-sellers ranking greatly depending on which segments it targets.

The Renault Clio IV will miss out on the pole position by a mere hundreds units…

La grande question de 2013 will be whether the Peugeot 208 or the Renault Clio IV will win the title of France’s most popular vehicle. As usual the race will be very close, and I give a tiny advantage to the 208, mainly because of its sub-10,000€ starting price, a definitive pull in harsh economic times, the arrival of the much anticipated GTI variant in March and the absence of a 3-door version for the Clio IV. Internal competition will also play a role in deciding next year’s winner. I see the last, heavily promoted units of the Clio III hurting the IV more than the 207+ could hurt the 208, and the similarly-sized electric Renault Zoe also having a negative impact on the Clio IV – Renault saw this coming by delaying the Noe launch so it doesn’t conflict too much with the Clio IV. Then there is the new generation Dacia Sandero which I will talk more about below.

Renault Captur

But the biggest disruption could come from the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 crossovers, based on the Clio IV and 208 platforms and entering a category the French have proved to be fond of with the success of the Nissan Juke. These two models will launch too late (June and September respectively) to rank within the 2013 Top 10 but their potential is significant: between 1.5% and 2.2% share in my view, with an advantage for the 2008 as it should be more distinct from the 208 than the Captur from the Clio. These two models will be the biggest French new launches in 2013, ensuring lots of buzz and publicity that could take the attention away from the Clio IV and 208. In any case, the two models should be very close by year-end, both around 5%, which is less than the Clio 3 and 207 achieved in their prime, but in line with the ever-growing fragmentation of the French market.

Peugeot 3008

The Citroen C3 will get a mid-life facelift in 2013 to match the current Brazilian model, but that won’t prevent it to fall faster than the market at -15%, albeit still on the podium. The case is worse for the Renault Megane and Scenic which I predict will drop by 25% and 28% to #4 and #6 respectively. A questionable (ok ugly) design didn’t prevent the Peugeot 3008 to climb the ranking year after year in France, from #11 in 2010 to #9 in 2011 to #8 in 2012. A much needed facelift in September will follow the lines of the Chinese model (above) and allow the 3008 to drop slightly less than the market at -7%, meaning a jump to 5th place in 2013.

Peugeot 2008

Volkswagen is going from strength to strength in France and the Polo has shown what it is capable of in 2012, ranking within the monthly Top 5, something no other foreign model has ever achieved in the country, not once but 3 times in the last 12 months. The German carmaker’s success will continue into 2013 with the Polo following the market at #7 and the all-new Golf up 3 spots to #9. Peugeot will launch the new generation 308 in September and I predict the model to slow down its fall accordingly to -15% at #9, and Citroen will launch the C4 Picasso gen 2 just in time for the Summer holidays which should stabilise its sales next year, up 3 ranks to #10.

Dacia Sandero

Renault completely rethought the Dacia Sandero for the 2nd generation and has just launched it across Europe. Expect the model to fight for a spot in the Top 10 next year, with sales up by 25% to #11. Finally, with the 2nd generation not landing before September 2014, I see Nissan starting to aggressively promote the Qashqai next year which could earn it a lucky spot in the monthly Top 10 once, just once, making it the 2nd Japanese model to ever achieve this feat with the Toyota Yaris.

Do you agree? Disagree? What are your predictions for the French market in 2013? Let me know by commenting on here!

Full Year 2013 forecast Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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