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France March 2015: Renault, Peugeot & Mercedes lift market up 9%

Renault Mégane France March 2015. Picture by largus.frThe Renault Mégane is back up to #6 overall this month.

* Now updated with the Top 250 best-selling models and Top 40 brands *

French new car sales are finally getting a significant boost this month: up 9.5% year-on-year in March to 196,572 registrations, partly thanks to one more opening day without which the market would be up just 4%. Year-to-date sales are now up 7% to 477,326 deliveries. Caveating this performance is the exceptional strength of tactical sales (+15%), including demo sales (+14%) and short-term rentals (+21%), while private sales are up 2% after -3.5% in February and +0.3% in January. On the plus side, orders taken by dealers in March are up 11%, on the negative side, the surge in short-term rentals seems to be the result of purchases brought forward in anticipation of the summer holiday season rather than a real activity growth and this means short-term rentals in the coming month will suffer, potentially pulling the market down with them.

Mercedes C-Class France March 2015. Picture courtesy of largus,frMercedes overtakes Audi to become the #1 premium brand in France in March.

The 2 main manufacturers in the country, Renault (+13%) and Peugeot (+12%) both outperform the market to 21.4% and 17.2% share respectively while Citroen is up just 5% to 10% and its premium brand DS is down 15% to 1.5%. The rest of the brands ranking confirms trends are turned on their head this year: Dacia, usually displaying staggering year-on-year gains, is down 10%, Ford is up 19%, Toyota up 16%, Kia up 23% and Hyundai up 44%. Mercedes spectacularly takes charge of premium brands thanks to sales up 40% (and private sales up 61%) to 5,705 units at #10 vs. 5,437 (+5%) for Audi and 5,355 (+14%) for BMW. Also impressive is Mini (+61%) thanks to the new 5-door hatch, while Jeep is in a category of its own: multiplying its sales by 10 vs. March 2014 to 845 thanks to the Renegade (#69 with 681 units).

Fiat 500X France March 2015. Picture courtesy autobild.deThe Fiat 500X breaks into the French Top 50 for the first time in March.

In the models ranking, all Top 7 nameplates gain more ground than the market, resulting in a trend-bucking de-fragmentation. The Peugeot 308 at #4 (+63%), Renault Captur at #3 (+41%) and Renault Clio IV at #1 (+27%) are the biggest gainers, with the Renault Mégane at #6 (+18%) also back in shape. The Peugeot 2008 (#5) is up 15% while the Peugeot 208 (#2) is up 11% and the Citroen C3 (#7) up 10%. The Renault Twingo III is down 4 spots on February to #9 and the Top 10 is 100% French for the 2nd straight month with the VW Polo at #12, VW Golf at #14 (both down a harsh 17%) and Ford Fiesta at #15 (+10%) the most popular foreigners.

Audi TT France March 2015. Picture courtesy largus.frThe new model lifts Audi TT sales 4-fold on a year ago in France.

Further down, the Peugeot 508 is up 49% at #19, the Citroen C4 Cactus maintains itself above the C4 at #21, the Opel Mokka is up 41% to #25, the VW Passat up a spectacular 86% to #37, the Toyota Aygo II (#42) and Fiat 500X (#43) both break into the monthly French Top 50 for the first time, the Nissan X-Trail is up 9 ranks on February to #58 and the Ford Ecosport up 24 to #65. Outside the Top 100, notice the Ford Mondeo up 123% year-on-year, the Nissan Leaf up 120%, Mazda6 up 135%, Audi TT up 331%, the Land Rover Discovery up 1144% thanks to the new Sport model, the BMW X6 up 245% and the Kia Sorento up 326%.

Previous post: France 1-16 March 2015: Renault Mégane back in shape

Previous month: France February 2015: Renault Twingo III breaks into Top 5

One year ago: France March 2014: Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 both in Top 4 for the first time

Full March 2015 Top 250 models and Top 40 brands below.

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