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France Full Year 2012: Last hurrah for the Renault Clio III, no car above 100,000 sales for first time since 1956

Renault Clio III

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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.

Peugeot 208

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.

VW Polo

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.

Nissan Qashqai

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…

Dacia Lodgy 

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!

There is now Top 400 All-models and Top 63 All-brands rankings available here! *

Previous post: France December 2012: Dacia Sandero back in Top 10 after 2.5 years

Previous year: France Full Year 2011: A Citroen on the podium for the first time since 1985

Full Year 2012 Top 100 models Ranking Table below.

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