* NOW UPDATED with actuals for the Top 60 models and Top 15 brands – Thanks Marie-Dominique *
While the rest of Europe is enjoying a slow but steady recovery, the French new car market is stuck in muddy waters. One year ago, August broke the sad record of slowest month of new car sales in the country in 37 years. This year with one less working day in the month, the picture is even worse: down 3% to 83,340 registrations, with the year-to-date total now up by just 1.6% on 2013 at 1,185,851 units. This makes August 2014 the lowest monthly score in 38 years, since the 83,000 units registered in August 1976, and the third weakest month in the past 40 years below the 69,426 units of August 1975. For further perspective, we are looking at lower sales than in May 1968 (90,352) when the country was all but paralised by the biggest student protests in its history.
On a positive note, if we extend the reference frame to the past 50 years (see above – August 1965 to now), August 2014 ranks at a less depressing #21 lowest monthly score. You could argue these results are slightly biased by the fact that August is traditionally and by far the slowest month of the year with Summer holidays at their peak. So this even weaker than normal result won’t end up having much of an impact on the annual results, it only shows that French car buyers are delaying their new car purchase to potentially after the Paris Motor Show in October which could bring a welcome boost to the market. Renault reclaims the lead of the brands ranking in spite of sales down 14% to 14,012 and 16.8% share, ahead of Peugeot (-4%) and Citroen (-1%) while Volkswagen rebates itself into a 26% surge to 9% share. In a month only favourable to foreign manufacturers, Toyota (+16%), Ford (+40%), Mini (+24%) and Skoda (+25%) also shine.
Model-wise, August is always the month of records in France as a much smaller market means promotions have a more visible impact and the ranking becomes very volatile, and this year is no exception. Below the Renault Clio IV (5.5%) and Peugeot 208 (5.1%), the Peugeot 308 II is back on the podium for the 2nd time in the past 4 months. The Dacia Sandero is up 7 ranks to #4, its highest ranking since last January and with the Duster at #10 we have two Dacias in the monthly French Top 10 for only the second time in history with last April. But it’s below that we have more spectacular developments… Pushed by aggressive rebates, the VW Golf VII is up to 5th place thanks to 2,391 sales and 2.9% share. This is simply the nameplate’s highest ever ranking in France, last reached… 22 years ago in December 1992 (this information is TBC).
The locally-produced Toyota Yaris for its part is up 10 ranks on July to an unbelievable 7th position at 2,170 units and 2.6%, mainly due to 899 sales to dealerships. This is the third time the Yaris ranks inside the monthly French Top 10 after January and March 2007 and the highest ever ranking reached by a Japanese model in France, beating the previous best of #9 by the Toyota Yaris itself in January 2007 and the Nissan Qashqai in March 2013. To round up a month of foreign highlights, the VW Polo at #9 makes it 3 foreigners in the Top 9, something we haven’t seen in years.
Further down, the new generation Renault Twingo III delivers its first ‘real’ month of sales at #13 with 1,886 units, the Citroen C4 Cactus remains solid at #22 and 1.1% share, the Toyota Auris is up 7 spots on last month to a best-ever #23 (previous best: #26 last January), the Audi A3 at #24, Opel Mokka at #26, Ford Kuga up 12 ranks to a record #42 (previous best: #45 in October 2012) and the BMW X1 up 11 to #47.
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Full August 2014 Top 50 models and Top 15 brands Ranking Tables below.