* Now updated with the Top 40 best-selling brands and Top 270 models *
The French new car market is down 4% year-on-year in May to 143.059 registrations, its lowest May score in 17 years since the 137.258 units of 1998. However when adjusted to a daily rate the market is up 7%, bringing the year-to-date total to 791.143 units, up 4% on 2014. So is this good or bad news? It’s a mixed bag this month in France with sales to private buyers remaining at historical lows at 48% or 68.688 units vs. 49% and 388.365 year-to-date, however they follow the market at -4% whereas tactical sales (demo cars, short-term rentals and dealer sales) are down for the first time this year at -5% to 29% of the total. CCFA’s order barometer gives an adjusted May score at +10% year-on-year which should indicate a recovery over the coming months.
May is traditionally a weaker month for Renault but contrary to last year it manages to stay #1 in the brand ranking with 18% share vs. 17.5% for Peugeot, down 7%. Citroen (-16%) and DS (-44%) post two of the three worst declines in the Top 20 along with Kia (-20%). It’s a very worrying situation for Citroen at home: now below 10% share at 9.9%, it is only 1.7 percentage points above Volkswagen this month (8.2%) vs. 2.8 percentage points year-to-date (10.5% vs. 7.7%). Ford is back above Dacia at #5 with the two manufacturers losing 10% year-on-year, making the Top 6 brands all in negative in May. Reversely, Mercedes (+4%), Opel (+5%), Fiat (+10% with private sales at +57%), Nissan (+13% and now above Toyota in 2015), BMW (+19%), Hyundai (+37% only due to tactical sales) and Mini (+47%) shine. Outside the Top 20, notice Land Rover (+47%), Smart (+153%) and Jeep up 5-fold.
The Renault Clio remains the most popular choice at home but for the first time in the history of the nameplate the Peugeot 308 climbs into 2nd position, becoming Peugeot’s best-seller – also a first. Its sells 6.462 units vs. 5.962 for the 208 and manages to break a spell of 12 months spent at a previous best of #3 across two generations: 7 for the first gen in June to October 2008, January and June 2009, and 5 for the 2nd gen in May, August and November 2014 and January and April 2015… Another momentous shift is potentially occurring before our eyes this month: the Peugeot 2008 frankly outsells the Renault Captur for the 2nd month in a row at #4 with 5.469 deliveries vs. 4.209. The only other time that happened was in October and November 2013, with the 2008 managing to rank above the Captur only in May and October 2014 since. Note the Peugeot 2008 is #2 overall with private buyers with 4.8% share just below the Clio at 5.1% but above the 208 at 4.3%.
If the Captur has not cannibalised Clio sales as much as the 2008 did the 208, its current weakness could well turn out to be the start of a sales plateau as the larger Renault Kadjar lands directly at #24 with 1.370 demo sales. Interestingly the Nissan Qashqai, essentially the inspiration for the Kadjar, is totally unaffected for the moment: up 14% year-on-year and 4 spots on April to a brilliant 16th place overall and #3 foreigner below just the VW Polo (#9) and Golf (#14), passing the Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa and Ford Fiesta that outsold it last month. The Opel Mokka has not stopped climbing the French charts since January: #29, #26, #25, #24 and a record #21 in May, also reached last November.
Further down, the Mini is supercharged by its 5-door variant at +232% to #27 and sells 4 times as many as DS3 to private buyers, the Fiat 500X is up a further 7 spots on last month to improve its personal best to #34 thanks to 981 sales and is already Fiat’s best-seller with private buyers, the Renault Espace is back up 121% to #54 thanks to the new generation and the Nissan X-Trail is up 13-fold yoy at #59. At #51 with 736 sales, the Jeep Renegade is only 6 units off becoming the first Jeep to break into the French monthly Top 50 in 25 years, since the Cherokee did so in 1990, a vehicle actually co-engineered by Renault when it owned part of AMC-Eagle in the eighties and sold as the Renault-Jeep Cherokee along with the all-new Renault Clio… The Suzuki Vitara is up 21 spots on April to #99, the Opel Karl lands at #165 and the Mazda CX-3 at #170.
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Full May 2015 Top 40 brands and Top 270 models below.