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France December 2017: Volkswagen above Citroen for first time in history

The new C3 Aircross doesn’t prevent Citroen to fall to its lowest share in possibly 97 years… 

* See the Top 50 All-brands, Top 350 All-models and Top 10 private sales by clicking on the title *

The French new car market edges down 0.5% year-on-year in December to 193.375 registrations due to two less opening days. Renault is in difficulty at -7.7% but remains at a very high level at 20.6% share, over 10.000 units above archenemy Peugeot up 6.6% to a still very weak 15.1%. The big event is in third place: thanks to deliveries up 4.4% to 7.5% share, Volkswagen manages to overtake Citroen (-2.3%) to rank third overall for the first time. Monthly brands data isn’t available all the way back to 1894 when the first cars were registered in France (1894-1934 circulation data available on BSCB here) but this is likely the first time since the 1920s (Ford?) that a foreign carmaker manages to rank on the French podium, even in a monthly ranking – bar a freak event that could have happened during the 1950s or 1960s. There is in any case no record of such an event since the 1970s when car sales data started to be published more regularly in France. Please contact us if you are aware of something we aren’t.

The last time Citroen held such a low share at home was potentially in the brand’s infancy in 1920, when its only offer was the Type A, the first mass produced car in Europe.

At the very least, ever since I have been following the French market in the early 1980s this has never happened, simply because Citroen used to command a much higher share of its home market, even holding the #1 brand spot during the 1930s and a large part of the 1940s when the Traction Avant was the best-seller in the country (see all available Historical Data for the French market here). This way, the 7.4% it falls to in December – after 7.5% in December 2016 – is potentially the lowest market share recorded in France by Citroen in almost 100 years. Originally launched in 1919, the Citroen brand was met with immediate success as it imported in France the industrial production methods inaugurated by Henry Ford. Its first vehicle, the Type A, was the first mass produced car in Europe and went from just 2.810 units in 1920 (or 4% of a booming post-war market) to 12.244 in 1921 which already accounted for roughly 20% of the French market at the time. So we are looking at potentially the weakest presence of Citroen in France in 97 years out of the 99-year long history of the brand.

The Renault Captur is up to #2 in December and #1 with private buyers. 

In 5th place, Dacia ends the year on a high note with sales up 12.2% while Mercedes is up one spot on November to land at a stunning 6th position like in December 2016 despite sales down 1% year-on-year. The Stuttgart company has also ended Audi’s long term domination of the premium market in France as we detail in our Full Year 2017 Report. Toyota (-1.7%) confirms it is now firmly installed above Ford (-1.1%) with BMW (+11%) sandwiched in between. Audi (+0.7%) rounds up the Top 10, distancing Nissan (-20.9%), Fiat (-11.9%) and Opel (-5.6%), all falling heavily. Mazda (+43%), Jeep (+39.8%), Mini (+22.8%), Volvo (+17.4%), Subaru (+15.8%), Porsche (+10.7%) and Seat (+10%) also post double-digit gains while among smaller brands Aston Martin (+58.3%), Lamborghini (+44.4%) and Lotus (+22%) shine.

For the first time, the 3008 is Peugeot’s best-seller at home.

There’s a lot of reshuffling leading to last minute changes in the models ranking also. Below the Renault Clio down a harsh 15% to 5.6% share (identical to its annual level), the Renault Captur (+28%) steps up to a record-equalling 2nd place, a position it has only held three times before: in June 2014, 2015 and 2016. Notice these high scores always happen at end-of-period times, when Renault fuels up on artificial registrations, although this month the Captur also tops the private sales ranking (+28%) above the Dacia Sandero (+10%) and Peugeot 208 (-24%). A momentous event in third place: the Peugeot 3008 (+50%) becomes the brand’s best-seller, outselling the 208 (-16%) for the first time ever and marking the first time since June 2012 (shortly after its launch) that the 208 doesn’t appear inside the French monthly podium. Adding the 5008, Peugeot’s star SUV tandem’s sales come up to 5.1% share or #2 vs. #1 last month.

The BMW X1 hits a record #24 in France this month. 

The Peugeot 2008 (+2%) is stable in 5th place but loses the 4th annual spot to its archenemy the Captur in the last days of the year. The Citroen C3 III is knocked down to #6 despite seeing its deliveries soar 78% year-on-year. The Dacia Duster (#10) is back inside the Top 10 for the first time since July 2016, and the VW Polo (#11) and Golf (#12) top foreign models. The Citroen C3 Aircross is down three spots on November to #22, the BMW X1 is up 47% to a record #24, the Mercedes GLC up 41% to a record #26, the Ford Kuga is up 84%, the Fiat Tipo up 45% and the Toyota C-HR up 79%. The Opel Crossland X (#66) leads recent launches (<12 months) just above the Hyundai Kona up 39 ranks to #68 and the VW T-Roc up 14 to #85. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross lands at #174, the Jaguar E-Pace at #231 and the Volvo XC40 at #313.

Previous month: France November 2017: Peugeot 3008/5008 above Renault Clio

One year ago: France December 2016: New generation Renault Scenic up to #6

Full December 2017 Top 50 All-brands, Top 350 All-models and Top 10 private sales below.

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