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2012 was a very tough year for new car sales in France, down a worrying 14% on 2011 to 1,898,872 registrations, the weakest annual tally in 15 years, since 1997 when 1,713,030 vehicles were registered. Models-wise, 2012 was a year of transition with the end of life of the 2 most successful models in the country over the last 5 years – the Renault Clio III and Peugeot 207 – and the arrival of their replacement – the Renault Clio IV and Peugeot 208. As a result the ranking is a little meaningless, with the Renault Clio III holding onto the pole position for the last time but down 30% to an estimated 87,194 units. It ranked #1 each month up until June.
And this is perhaps the most striking characteristic of the French 2012 models ranking: not a single car managed to sell at least 100,000 units this year, for the first time since 1956 (Renault Dauphine). Launched earlier in the year, the Peugeot 208 had a jump start on the Clio IV: it broke into the monthly Top 5 in May (#5) and topped the ranking for the first time in July, repeating this feat 4 times and finishing the year at #2 with 66,368 sales and 3.5%. The Renault Clio IV ranked #4 in October and took the lead in November but was launched too late to have an impact on the FY ranking, finishing #26.
The Citroen C3 maintains itself onto the podium at 62,922 units and 3.3% (-21%), only the third time in the last 30 years after 1985 and 2011 that a Citroen is present in the year-end Top 3. The VW Polo ranked within the monthly Top 5 no less than 3 times this year: in January (#4), November (#5) and December (#5), still the only foreign model to have ever managed that feat, at least since World War II. It is down 18% but up one spot to #7, its highest year-end ranking and the best-ever for a foreign model, also reached by the Ford Fiesta in 1985 and 1991. Notice also the Citroen C4 back in the year-end Top 10 for the first time since 2008.
French consumers shied away from their usual favourites this year, with no model in the Top 15 except the all-new 208 gaining ground year-on-year! The Nissan Qashqai is shaping up to be one of the success stories of the last decade in France and Europe, up 4% and 3 spots on 2011 to #16 with 30,846 sales and 1.6%, beating its monthly ranking record no less than 4 times this year: in March (#15), July (#14), September (#13) and December (#12)! The Top 10 could be for 2013…
Further down, notice the Dacia Sandero up 0.3% to #18, boosted by the new generation in December, the Toyota Yaris up 8 spots and 15% to #21, VW Tiguan up 18 and 54% to #23, Nissan Juke up 5% to #27, Audi A1 up 10 ranks to #35, Citroen DS4 up 31% to #37 and Mercedes B-Class doubling its sales and up 31 spots to #38. The Dacia Lodgy lands directly at #40 with 13,052 units and even broke into the monthly in Top 10 in August!
Full Year 2012 Top 100 models Ranking Table below.