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France 1st Quarter 2015: Artificial recovery?

Peugeot 308 France March 2015. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Peugeot 308 is up 61% year-on-year at home so far in 2015.

* See the Top 250 best-selling models and Top 40 brands by clicking on the title *

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the French new car market, stuck at two-decade-lows for the past couple of years. First Quarter 2015 sales are up 7% year-on-year to 477.326 units, however let’s keep in mind this improvement is artificial as it relies on strong demo, dealership and short-term rental sales. Private sales are stable at very weak levels with the private ratio to total market plunging below 50% for the first time in the history of automobile in the country. France is therefore not quite out of the woods yet.

Ford Mondeo France March 2015Ford sales are up 24% in France…

In this context, the two main local manufacturers perform slightly better than the market and thus improve their share to 20.2% for Renault (+8%) and 17.5% for Peugeot (+10%) while Citroen (+0.4%) drops to 10.5%. Below Volkswagen, Dacia, after a full decade of uninterrupted growth, takes a breather in the absence of any true new model (-14%), now threatened by Ford up a snappy 24% to 4.6% share thanks to strong gains from the Mondeo (+115%), Kuga (+60%), Ka (+31%), Fiesta (+20%), Focus (+15%) and the arrival of the Ecosport. Nissan (+14%) and Fiat (+10%) also shine in the Top 10.

Mercedes C Class France March 2015. Picture courtesy of largus.fr…while Mercedes sales are up an even more impressive 34%.

The race for the title of #1 luxury brand is getting very heated, as it is the case in a lot of markets curremtly. Audi keeps the lead but gains just 2% to 12.896 units whereas Mercedes (+34%) at 12.418 and BMW (+14%) at 12.102 are catching up fast. DS (-13%) at 7.418 is out of the race (for now?). Further down, let’s salute the excellent performances of Porsche (+129%), Hyundai, Smart (+64%), Mini (+59%), Lexus (+49%) and Mazda (+32%), but none better than Jeep, up 10-fold on its Q1 2014 score, going from 200 sales to 1,958 thanks to the Renegade (1.629 deliveries).

Renault Clio France March 2015. Picture courtesy of automobile-magazine.frStill the favourite at home: the Renault Clio

The Renault Clio remains the most popular nameplate at home, even improving its market share to 6% thanks to sales up 15%. Reversely, the Peugeot 208 has peaked already (-1%) and is now threatened for the 2015 #2 spot overall by the Renault Captur (+31%) and most dangerously its big brother the Peugeot 308, up 64% thanks to a much improved 2nd generation and the success of the station wagon variant. The Peugeot 2008 is also still gearing up almost two years after launch at +22% in 5th place.

Citroën C4 Cactus France March 2015. Picture courtesy of largus.frCitroen C4 Cactus

The Renault Twingo III (13.283 deliveries) is 27% above the previous generation at the same time last year, the VW Polo is the best-selling foreigner at #12 ahead of the VW Golf while the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris overtake the Nissan Qashqai, a little handicapped by the arrival of the X-Trail (+1603%). Notice also the VW Passat up 83% to #33, the Mini nameplate up 3-fold on 2014 to #35 thanks to the arrival of the 5-door variant, the Hyundai i20 up 195% to #41 and the Mercedes C-Class up 137% to #49. The French place 3 all-new nameplates inside their home Top 30: the Citroen C4 Cactus is the most popular at #22, followed by the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 II. The VW Golf Sportsvan and Toyota Aygo II also manage to fit within the Top 50 while the Fiat 500X (#65) and Jeep Renegade (#70) post very promising starts.

Previous post: France March 2015: Renault, Peugeot and Mercedes lift market up 9%

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

Full Q1 2015 Top 250 models and Top 40 brands vs. Full Q1 2014 figures below.

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