* Now updated with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 317 All-models: click on title to see *
At +3.5% year-on-year in January to 137.788 registrations, we should be celebrating the apparent long term return to good health of the French market. Alas, the market is only up due to an ever growing reliance on tactical sales: sales to short-term rentals are up 22% while long-term rentals are up 27%. Private sales are sable (+0.1%) at 69.140 units or just 50.1% of total registrations. Sales to companies even decline by 2%. Local website Autoactu.com quotes Jacques Rivoal, Volkswagen Group France president: “private buyers are not purchasing new cars that much, rather they tend to want recent used cars” – meaning cars that are sold to rental companies or self-registered as new by dealers themselves and sold a few months later as used to private consumers at a much lower price. A politically correct way of saying: our dealers are slashing their margins but we are doing fine – keep in mind manufacturers sell their new cars to dealers. The brands ranking in January also reflects the fact that a few manufacturers that tanked up on “fake” (read tactical) sales in December to meet annual targets are tanking now, notably Renault, #2 at just 17% share vs. 23% in December and Mercedes at 1.7% vs. an extravagant 4.5% last month.
This way, Peugeot is crowned best-selling brand at home – the first time this happens in January – with sales up 3% to 24.943 for a 18.1% share. Peugeot places the 208 at #1 with 5.5% share (+26%) and the 308 at #2 and 4.4% (+6%), while the Renault Clio is down to #3 (-18%) and the Captur to #4 (-5%). Despite sales down 6%, Peugeot is also market leader with private buyers at 15.9% share vs. 15.1% for Renault, but is also culprit of loading up on tactical sales this month: short-term rentals are up 48% to 2.383. Citroen is up 2% to 15.204 and Volkswagen up 6% to 11.026. Here too, the German carmaker owes its gain solely to tactical sales: while private deliveries are down an abysmal 21%, short-term rental sales surge from just 230 a year ago to 1.934 this month (+741%!). Jacques Rivoal again quoted by Autoactu.com: “We have decided to be more reactive by taking our share in this channel early in the year rather than wait for others to gain. There is a real demand for recent used cars and we have no issue absorbing these vehicles in our network. ” In other words, everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t we. The mark of a very unhealthy market.
Dacia manages to stay strong despite no news at #5 and 6.3% share and places two nameplates inside the French Top 10: the Sandero at #7 and the Duster at #9. Audi is up a sharp 40%, BMW up 36%, Mini up 26%, Volvo up 23%, Kia and Skoda up 21%, Opel up 19%, Fiat up 13% and Toyota up 12%. On the other hand, Nissan is down 24% and Hyundai down 20%. In other model news, the Citroen C3 (+13%) shines in 5th place, the Toyota Yaris is up 15% to #12, and the Renault Kadjar (#16), Megane IV (#31), Espace (#40) and Talisman (#60) retreat vs. last month but are still strong.
The Hyundai Tucson breaks into the Top 50 at #38, the Opel Karl is up 24 ranks to #76, the Suzuki Vitara remains at #81, the new Mini Clubman is just outside the Top 100 at #102, as is the Land Rover Discovery Sport (#107). Finally, we welcome two new entrants in the French sales charts this month: the Infiniti Q30 lands at #240 with 12 sales and the DR Zero arrives at #296 with one lonely unit sold. DR Motor has been assembling Chinese Chery models and speccing them up for a decade in Italy. Is it finally launching in France? It would certainly help its bottom line. The Zero is a “poshed-up” 2013 Chery QQ.
Previous month: France December 2015: Renault and Dacia tank up on sales
Full January 2016 Top 50 All-brands and Top 317 All-models below.