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France June 2013: Private sales dive under 50% of overall market

Fiat Panda France June 2013Fiat Panda. 66% of French Fiat sales in June are “tactical”.

* You can check out the France June 2013 Top 100 models ranking here *

After going through the Top 100 best-selling models in France in detail, there has been an interesting development in the structure of the market that I thought warranted a separate article. We have seen that sales to private buyers can give a very different picture than the overall market does, for example in Germany. Some structural information is starting to trickle down for the French market, and it shows that sales to private buyers are the ones that are pulling the overall market down, in a symetrically opposed way to what is currently happening in the UK where private sales are pushing the market up.

Citroen DS5 France June 2013Citroen DS5. 32% of French Citroen sales in June are tactical, the highest percentage among French carmakers.

In June, for the 2nd consecutive month and the third time this year, private sales have accounted for less than 50% of the overall market at 49.5% after dropping to 49.3% in May. This is a significant move, because private sales accounted for 59% of overall sales in 2011 and 55% in 2012. So it’s fair to say that we are witnessing the very first months in the history of automobile in France where the private buyer doesn’t hold a “majority” in overall sales. New sales figures now give us a little more detail as to what the other “customers” are and how these segments are performing, and this is where we introduce the very interesting notion of “tactical sales”.

Dacia Logan France June 2013. Picture courtesy of autoevolution.comDacia Logan. Dacia is fighting with Volkswagen for the 4th place in the private sales ranking.

Over the first half of 2013, Private sales account for 51.2% of the market, sales to companies and long-term rentals (or lease) are at 19.7%, short term rentals are at 12.6%, demo sales at 12.4% and garage sales (sales to dealerships) at 2%. The last 3 categories, accounting for a huge 27% of overall sales, are called “tactical” because manufacturers can directly influence them to improve their overall market share. Yes, surprise surprise, they do that. Now let’s see who is using tactical sales to look better. First among French carmakers: Peugeot is the most virtuous at only 20% tactical sales, Renault is bang on in the average at 27% and Citroen is way above at 32%.

Hyundai i40 France June 2013Hyundai i40. Almost half of Hyundai French sales in June are tactical.

But wait there’s worse: for some carmakers, over half of their June sales are actually tactical (read manipulated) sales: Hyundai is at 47%, Alfa Romeo at 54%, Jeep at 61%, Jaguar at 62% and Fiat at a huge 66%, meaning 2 in 3 Fiats registered in France in June were actually registered by Fiat themselves to either short-term rental companies, as demo vehicles or garage sales directly to dealerships. Notice also Skoda at 35%, Lancia and Opel at 32% and Nissan at 31%.

Jeep Grand Cherokee France June 2013Jeep Grand Cherokee. 61% of Jeep’s French sales in June are tactical.

Now to private sales. While Peugeot passed Renault in the private sales ranking both in April and May, Renault is back in the lead in June at 18.7% share vs. 14.9% for Peugeot and 11.5% for Citroen. Year-to-date, their respective shares are 16.3%, 14.7% and 12.1%. Interestingly, Dacia is fighting Volkswagen for 4th place when only private sales are taken into account. We have seen elsewhere (eg Germany) that Dacia is particularly successful with private buyers so this should not come as a surprise.

Previous post: France June 2013: Renault Captur up to #4, Peugeot 2008 #11

Previous month: France May 2013: Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 intrigue

One year ago: France June 2012: Dacia Lodgy in Top 30

Full article featuring the sales detail by customer below.

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