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France August 2016: Dacia, Mercedes, tactical sales lift market up 7%

Dacia Sandero France August 2016. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Dacia Sandero outsells the Renault Clio 2 to 1 with private buyers in August.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 50 All-brands, Top 270 models and Top 10 private sales *

After dropping 10% in July, the French new car market is back in positive territory in August at +7% to 98.217 registrations, in fact a seasonally adjusted 1.9% increase (daily rate). Year-to-date, deliveries are up 6% to 1.333.636 units. If the first half of the year was characterised by a rather artificial growth triggered by tactical sales, the summer months haven’t been truly positive either. August’s small increase – when dealing with the same number of working days – has once again nothing to do with private sales, up just 3.5% but down 1.2% seasonally adjusted, and accounting for 50% of the total market in August, their lowest ever ratio for the month. Company sales remain the main engine of growth in France, at +8% to 24.133 or 24.5% share in August. Local publication autoactu.com notes: “This accelerating transfer from private to company sales isn’t the result of a misattribution of long-term lease to companies. If the end-buyer of the car is a private person, the sale is counted as private even if the financing is a long-term lease with or without purchase option (LOA or LLD in French).

Citroen C3 France August 2016. Picture courtesy Copyright William Crozes @ Continental ProdutionsCitroen private sales are down a harsh 20% in August – waiting for the new C3? 

Another resilient unhealthy aspect of the French market is the sharp increase of stock registrations – or self-registrations, the practice of registering a car to the manufacturer or dealer to then sell it as a “zero km” used car. Demo dealer sales are up 17% to 14.062 and manufacturer sales are up 12% to 3.578. Combined, this channel is the one gaining the most ground in August at +16%, accounting for an astounding 18% of the total market. The main culprits of this type of practice this month are Citroen (+54%) – meaning its overall paltry performance (see below) would have been disastrous without self-registrations, Peugeot (+30%), Opel (+56%), Kia (+40%) and Fiat (+61%). Jacques Rivoal, Volkswagen Group France president quoted by Autoactu.com, summarises the situation rather well: “The market is uncertain. After an uncharacteristically good first half, July and August were disappointing and sales remain very tactical – this is definitely not a frank restart.”

Peugeot 2008 France August 2016. Picture courtesy largus.frThe Peugeot 2008 is boosted up 46% by its facelift and ends August above the Renault Captur.

Renault (+6.6%) is back to the brands pole position it holds year-to-date with 16.642 sales, edging past Peugeot (+6.7%) at 16.261. Very sensitive to quarter ends when it fills its data sheet with tactical sales to meet targets, Renault however retains a 40.000 unit-advantage so far in 2016 at 266.862 sales and 20% vs. 226.842 and 17% for Peugeot. Citroen is once again in difficulty at -6% and remains below the symbolic 10% market share barrier for the third consecutive month at 9.6% after 9.9% in June and July. Tactical sales up 54% have failed to compensate freefalling private sales down 20% year-on-year. The new generation C3 – landing in the August charts at #125 thanks to demo sales – couldn’t come quickly enough. Volkswagen for its part is tumbling down 19% on a very high August 2015 score (9.2% share) to 6.875 and 7%.

VW is now threatened by Dacia for the overall 4th spot: the low-cost access brand continues to build an implacable success in France. Its sales surge another 38% this month to 6.399 and 6.5% share of the overall market, its highest so far in 2016. In the private sales channel, Dacia has taken a considerable advantage over Citroen, holding a stunning 11.5% share this month vs. just 8.75% for Citroen, even starting to nudge market leaders Renault (14.1%) and Peugeot (13.7%). This feat enables Dacia to overtake Citroen in the YTD ranking also to rank #3 at 10.21% share vs. 10.14% while Renault (17.45%) and Peugeot (15.26%) remain leaders.

Mercedes A Class France August 2016. Picture courtesy largus.frMercedes sales are up 43% year-on-year to rank #1 premium above Audi and BMW.

Further down in the overall ranking, Toyota impresses at +12% in 6th place while Mercedes soars 43% to overtake Audi in the premium race at 3.723 sales vs. 3.703 (+7%), BMW arriving third at 3.501 (+9%). Opel (+6%) is kept outside the Top 10 by the three German premium brands, Nissan and DS implode (both at -20%) but Fiat (+18%), Kia (+16%), Mini (+24%) and Hyundai (+28%) all outpace the market. Further down, Jeep (+82%), Smart (+33%), Land Rover (+60%), Jaguar (+127%), Infiniti (+163%) and Maserati (+264%) all lodge spectacular scores.

Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 and Clio have now been #1 each for 6 out of the past 12 months. The 208 indeeds leads the way for the 2nd time in a row thanks to sales up 11% vs. a paltry -22% for the Clio in the midst of a changeover with the facelifted model. The 208 is boosted by a long-term lease promotion at 149€/month incl. maintenance on the Style trim accounting for 20-25% of the nameplate’s volume for the month. However a 2016 top spot for 208 still seems out of reach as it trails the Clio 65.999 vs. 71.760 so far. The Dacia Sandero is the gift that keeps giving, posting none other than the largest gain in the Top 30 at +65% to 3.627 units and 3.7% share, and stopping just 8 sales short off the Peugeot 308 (-2%) for a podium ranking. It also ranks #1 in the private sales channels as we detail further down.

Maserati Levante France August 2016The Levante pushes Maserati sales up 264% year-on-year in August. 

The Peugeot 2008 also signs an impressive month at +46% to 3.132 thanks to its facelift, overstepping its archenemy the Renault Captur at 2.917 (+7%). The Renault Mégane IV is still far off the segment leader the Peugeot 308 at 2% share vs. 3.7% in August, while the Renault Scénic III is discounted up 23% to #10 just as the 4th generation arrives in dealerships. The VW Polo (-20%), Toyota Yaris (-1%) and VW Golf (-26%) are the only foreigners in the Top 15, the Ford Fiesta is up 24% to #17, the Citroen C4 Cactus up 7 spots on July to #19, the Renault Talisman is up 6 to #28 and the BMW X1 is up 22 to #33 with 765 sales vs. just 11 for the previous generation a year ago. Other great performers include the Toyota RAV4 up 84% to #38, the Mercedes C-Class up 63% to #43 and the Dacia Lodgy up 70% to #53.

peugeot-3008-france-august-2016-picture-courtesy-autoplus-frThe new gen Peugeot 3008 has been spotted all across France over summer. It ranks #58 in August.

The new generation Peugeot 3008 makes its first appearance in the ranking at #58 with 460 demo sales, the new SUV has been spotted by numerous Auto Plus readers all throughout summer and these are the cars people spotted. The new gen Citroen C3 also appears at #125 with 140 demos. These two nameplates will launch in the coming months to the public. Further down, we welcome another three new nameplates: the Fiat Talento at #233, the Volvo S90 at #237 and the Tesla Model X at #261. Among other recent launches, the Fiat Tipo is up 8 spots on last month to #56, the Mercedes GLC up 3 to #63, the Citroen C-Elysée up 23 to #128, the Kia Niro up 8 to #131, the Fiat 124 Spider up 53 to #187 and the Maserati Levante up to #224 but the Jaguar F-Pace is down 15, the Seat Ateca down 47, the Infiniti Q30 down 92, Alfa Romeo Giulia down 34 and Citroen E-Mehari down 35.

Dacia Logo France August 2016Only Renault and Peugeot outsell Dacia with French private buyers so far in 2016. 

France Private sales 

Less than a month before its facelift is unveiled at the Paris Auto Show, the Dacia Sandero has taken an insurmountable advantage in the private sales models ranking with sales up 67% year-on-year to 3.331 units and 6.8% share in August vs. 2.609 and 5.34% for the Peugeot 208 (+18%) and just 1.467 and 3% for the Renault Clio (-18%). Yes you have read right, this month the Sandero outsells the Clio 2.27 to 1 with private buyers. The Clio is also outsold by the Renault Captur (+12%) and Peugeot 2008 (+43%), while the Dacia Duster lurks less than 100 private sales below in 6th place… The Toyota Yaris (#9) and Renault Twingo (#10) dislodge the Peugeot 308 and VW Golf from the Top 10.

Previous month: France July 2016: Peugeot #1, Dacia and Mercedes shine, market at -10%

One year ago: France August 2015: Renault and Clio reclaim control

Full August 2016 Top 50 All-brands, Top 270 models & Top 10 private sales below.

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