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In spite of an end of year stronger than expectations, the French new car market is down another 6% in 2013 to just 1,790,473 units, the weakest annual result in 16 years (since 1997), the 2nd lowest in the last 20 years and the 5th lowest in the last 35 years. Brand-wise, Renault stays in the lead by far and actually fares better than most: it is down just 2% to improve to 18.9% share while Peugeot is down 5% to 16.2% and Citroen down 11% to 13.3%. Below Volkswagen down 8% to 7.9% share, Renault-owned Dacia gains a fantastic 11% to 89,844 sales and a record 5% share to establish itself inside the Top Five for the first ever year. Notice also Toyota up 5% and two spots to #7 at 4% and Fiat up 9% to #11.
The big battle between the new-for-2012 Renault Clio IV and Peugeot 208 didn’t turn out to be one after all, with the Clio IV rapidly taking an unassailable advantage over the 208 which only topped the monthly charts twice (January and May). Overall, the Clio IV takes the relay from the Clio III (leader in 2011 and 2012) with 103,172 sales and 5.8% vs. 90,484 and 5.1% for the 208, a little cannibalised by the 2008 and even passed by the Citroen C3 for the first time in December. This marks the 15th year in the last 23 that a Renault Clio is the best-selling model in France, the first one being in 1991.
Before 2011, no Citroen had managed to rank inside the French podium since the BX in 1985. This year the Citroen C3 makes it to #3 for the third time in a row despite supply issues linked to strikes in its local production centre, closed since. The C3 even managed a splendid #2 spot in December for only the 2nd time in the nameplate’s 10 year-career. Below the Renault Scenic (-10%) and Megane (-29%), the Dacia Sandero makes a remarkable comeback thanks to the new model: up 56% and 12 spots to #6, its highest ever annual ranking beating the #7 it hit in 2010 and climbing onto the monthly podium twice. The VW Polo is the most popular foreigner for the 4th year running at #8 (-12%), ahead of the VW Golf VII at #12, taking it just where the previous gen left it last year. The Nissan Qashqai becomes the 2nd ever Japanese model to break into the monthly French Top 10 (twice: March and May), the other one being the Toyota the Yaris which is up 8 spots to #13 this year.
But let’s not beat around the bush for too long, the big 2013 event in France (Europe?) is the exceptional success of two local mini SUVs: the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. The Captur finishes the year at a formidable 7th place with 39,629 sales, it broke into the monthly Top 5 in June and hasn’t left it since (7 consecutive months!), peaking at #3 and 4% share in September. Launched a tad later, the 2008 followed a similar trajectory, among the 10 most popular cars in July and stepping up to #4 and 3.2% in October. This is a new segment for both manufacturers, and this year we have witnessed the habits of French customers swerve towards this category to the relative detriment of superminis: if the Clio was relatively unaffected, the 208 seems to have suffered a little from the 2008 success. 2014 is a blank page once again for both models, which could start flirting with the monthly pole position. Very exciting times indeed.
The analysis continues below.
More analysis, Full Year 2013 Top 300 models and Top 20 brands Ranking Tables below.