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France First Half 2018: Dacia passes Volkswagen to #4, Top 13 is 100% French for first time since 1979

The new Duster (+46%) helps push Dacia up to #4 brand for the first time in a half-year ranking.

* Now updated with the Top 40 brands, Top 270 models, Top 10 private sales, Top 10 LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models – click on title to see *

“In a country caught by a forgotten fever, the French soccer team has instilled in the nation, by mimetism, a dose of energy and self-confidence that it sometimes misses (L’Equipe/La Croix).” Today we celebrate the French victory in the Soccer World Cup with complete June and H1 2018 data. We mentioned earlier the “World Cup” effect that can vitalise car sales in nations with a surprisingly good performance at the World Cup. During the year of its last victory in 1998, French new car sales saw a fantastic 14% uplift, and this year’s victory was also unexpected. As you will see below, the French new car market is already robust in 2018 but the team’s victory could strengthen sales further over the second half of the year. We’ll know more when September figures get released in early October, as Summer sales are always disrupted by holidays and this year they will be troubled further with registrations pulled forward before the WLTP implementation on September 1.

Helped by June sales amounting to the third largest volume of any month in history, new car sales in France gain a solid 4.6% year-on-year over the First Half of 2018 to 1.188.127 units. This is the largest H1 volume since the all-time record of 2011 (1.225.148) and the fifth largest ever, after 2001 (1.204.411), 1990 (1.200.103) and 2010 (1.189.434). Up until the nineties, the new model-year in France was in July and resulted in sales brought forward to that month and comparatively low H1 scores, but nowadays H1 sales are on average 17% higher than H2 in France, making the H1 records above the actual straight out half-year records. Keeping this in mind, the French market is headed towards at least 2.2 million registrations in 2018, which would put it at its best since 2011 again but only 8th all-time with the best years ever remaining 1990 (2.309.130), 1989 (2.274.307) and 2009 (2.268.671). Yet another 4.5% uplift in 2019 would result in a straight out record year. Private sales have outpaced the market through the entire semester, reversing a five-year old trend and giving a welcome injection of health into the overall market: they gain 6.3% over the period to 560.832 units and 47.2% share vs. 46.4% a year ago.

France – annual and half-year all time volume records:

Meanwhile diesel sales continue to freefall and are now down to 40.3% share over the First Half of 2018 vs. 47% in FY2017 and 67% five years ago in 2013 (see CCFA graph above). Renault is the king of diesel registrations at home in terms of volume at 110.654 units ahead of Peugeot (90.584), Citroen (37.754), Dacia (35.538) and Volkswagen (29.055). In terms of sales ratio, 91.6% of all Land Rovers purchased in France over the period are diesel, ahead of Jaguar (84%), Mercedes (75%), Volvo (72.4%), BMW (65%) and Audi (56%). Mass market brands have seen diesel sales plunge below 50%, for example Renault (46.9%), Dacia (45.7%), Peugeot (42.4%), Volkswagen (38.7%), Citroen (33.1%), Fiat (24%), Suzuki (7%) and Toyota (4%).

The 3008 enables Peugeot to deliver a 7.6% uplift so far in 2018. Picture autoplus.fr

Among the Top 3 French carmakers, Peugeot is clearly above the rest performance-wise (but #2 in volume) and the only one outpacing its home market with a 7.6% gain to 18% share. Renault (+2.3%) is more discreet and falls below the symbolic 20% share mark as a result while Citroen (-0.4%) inexplicably struggles even with the new C3 now in cruise control and the arrival of the C3 Aircross. It’s the second consecutive semester (and potentially second ever) below 10% for the carmaker that became famous with the original DS. Note Renault owes its pole position in great part to very generous sales (and discounts) to rental companies at 41.970 vs. 29.641 for Peugeot and 15.803 for Citroen. Thanks to the new Duster and an ever-green Sandero, this year Dacia surges 20.8%, stepping up to a new dimension by overtaking Volkswagen to rank #4 overall for the first time in any semester in France. In the private sales channels Dacia cements its third place below just Renault and Peugeot but above Citroen and, of course, Volkswagen. This is a stunning performance for a brand that was completely unknown by the entire French population only a little over a decade ago. Adequately, its 6.5% share and 77.700 volume are the highest 6-month results in the brand’s history in France with a new all-time record monthly share (7.5%) hit in April.

Fiat sales are up 19.7% year-on-year, prodded by the 500 and Panda.

Only Fiat (+19.7%) markedly outperforms the market in the remainder of the Top 10, wth Toyota (+5.1%) matching the overall growth, Volkswagen (+3.3%) trailing slightly behind and Nissan (-13.7%), Ford (-4.5%) and Opel (-4.2%) all receding. The latter three despite very strong rental sales accounting for 20.4% of Nissan’s mix, 23.4% of Ford’s and 24.3% of Opel’s. Toyota remains the king of hybrids with 33.091 sales or 67.3% of its H1 volume and 63% of the hybrid market itself up 33% year-on-year. Just outside the Top 10, the 3 premium Germans are all in difficulty and see their order completely reshuffled. Mercedes (+0.8%) is now the most popular thanks to a meagre increase whereas BMW (-2.9%) remains in 2nd place and Audi (-13.7%) implodes. In contrast, Jeep (+37.1%) partly due to rental sales at a market-best 35.7% of its mix, Hyundai (+25.6%), Skoda (+21.7%), DS (+20.1%), Kia (+19.6%), Suzuki (+18.8%) and Seat (+18.2%) all post very vigorous gains further down. Below Dacia (84%), Suzuki (77.3%), Toyota (64.7%) and Hyundai (63.3%) showcase the highest private sales ratios in market. Alpine (#34) confirms its renaissance with 384 sales of the new A110 over the period.

The Renault Clio is headed towards an 8th consecutive title of best-selling car in France.

Over in the models ranking, there is no surprise on top with the Renault Clio (+9%) headed towards an 8th consecutive annual win, the longest winning streak for any nameplate in France since the Renault 5 topped the annual charts for ten consecutive years from 1974 to 1983. The Clio even widens the gap with its eternal rival the Peugeot 208 (+3%). But below the two leaders, the ranking gets a good shake. The Peugeot 3008 soars 26% to land on the third step of the podium, a position it has already managed over the Full Year 2017. The 3008/5008 tandem was even the “unofficial” best-selling vehicle in France in January, February, April and May. Still reaping the added sales of the new generation, the Citroen C3 (+13%) leaps three spots to #4, overtaking the Renault Captur (+7%), Peugeot 2008 (-4%) and 308 (-7%) while the Dacia Sandero jumps 12% and two ranks to #6. The Sandero however remains by far the favourite choice of private buyers at almost 33.000 units (+10%) ahead of the Peugeot 208 over 28.000 (+18%) and the Renault Clio under 27.000 (+15%).

The Citroen C3 Aircross is the most popular new launch and marks 13 French nameplates in the Top 13.

But the best performer in the Top 10 is the Dacia Duster, propped up 46% by the new generation and up five spots to #9, making it two Dacias in a half-year Top 10 for the first time in French history. The Duster hasn’t ranked inside the French annual Top 10 since 2011 which was its only stint so far among the country’s ten favourites. The Duster also ranks 5th in the private sales ranking at +53% – that’s two Dacias in the private Top 5, a record. Below the Renault Scenic (-2%), Twingo (+27%) and Megane (-10%), the Citroen C3 Aircross lands directly at #13 with over 21.000 sales and 1.8% share. This means that counting Dacia as French because Renault-owned, there are 13 French nameplates in the Top 13 vs. 12 in the Top 12 over H1 and FY 2017. If held until the end of the year, this would be the strongest contingent of French nameplates since 1979 when the Top 15 best-sellers were French, the most popular foreigner then being the Golf at 2% share. This year, the #1 foreign car is once again the VW Polo (+0.2%) hardly up despite a brand new generation, ahead of the Toyota Yaris (+14%), Fiat 500 (+21%) and VW Golf (-1%).

The VW T-Roc directly lands inside the Top 30.

The VW T-Roc (#28) is the only other all-new nameplate in the Top 50, and is followed by the Opel Grandland X (#58), Seat Arona (#67), DS 7 Crossback (#70), Kia Stonic (#84) and Hyundai Kona (#86). The Opel Crossland X (+924%) celebrating just over one year in market, Renault Koleos (+203%), Peugeot 5008 (+163%), Ford Mondeo (+120%), Fiat Panda (+107%), Nissan Micra (+98%), Kia Picanto (+68%), Suzuki Swift (+61%), Ford Ecosport (+56%) and Mini Countryman (+55%) also perform greatly. Sales of light commercial vehicles outpace passenger cars at +5.1% over the First Half 2018 to 241.265 units. Distant brand leader Renault trails the market slightly at +3.1%, leading to a thawed share at 30.8% vs. 31.4% a year ago. Peugeot (+4.7%) matches the overall growth at 17.2% share while contrary to its passenger car performance, Citroen (+13.9%) is the most dynamic Big 3 French carmaker when it comes to LCV sales, seeing its share jump from 14.9% a year ago to 16.2% now.

The Citroen Jumpy LCV is up 11% year-on-year so far in 2018.

Fiat (+1.5%) easily remains the #1 foreign brand at 9.1% share, distancing Ford (+3.7%) while Mercedes (+9.6%) overtakes Volkswagen (-3%) to #6. The Renault Kangoo (-1%) and Clio (-1%) easily cement their lead despite declines while the Renault Master (+6%) and Citroen Berlingo (+18%) advance in the ranking to close up the Top 4. Other great performers include the Citroen Jumper (+20%), Peugeot Boxer (+18%), Peugeot Expert (+17%) and Citroen Jumpy (+11%). In the pickup truck aisle, the Ford Ranger (+11%) keeps the title of best-seller at #20 overall, distancing the Toyota Hilux (+7%) at #25. The Nissan NP300 (-8%) is in difficulty at #30 but the VW Amarok (+11%) and Isuzu D-Max (+24%) are all guns blazing as is the Renault Alaskan making its appearance at #54 vs. #63 over the Full Year 2017. The twins Mitsubishi L200 (-7%) and Fiat Fullback (-24%) decline.

Previous post: France June 2018: Renault, Dacia, Fiat lift market to 3rd largest monthly volume in history

One year ago: France First Half 2017: Market lifted up 3% by tactical sales

Full H1 2018 Top 40 brands, Top 270 models, Top 10 LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models below.

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