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France December 2018: Yellow vests send market down 14.5%, Citroen resists, Renault Zoe breaks records

Would the French finally be warming up to the Renault Zoe? It would appear so.

Now updated with the Top 45 All-brands, Top 310 All-models and Top 10 private sales.

The French new car market ends 2018 on a dark note, with sales down an abysmal 14.5% in December to just 165.390 units – the largest drop this year – as the market, still weak from post-WLTP recovery, is hit with the full disruptive force of the “yellow vests” movement that has stifled the country for most of the month with access to most car dealerships being blocked by the protesters. The annual tally, which will be studied in a separate Full Year 2018 post, which was the 4th largest after 8 months, has sinked out of the Top 7 highest by year end. Brand leader Renault (-21.5%) is the hardest hit among the big platers, while Peugeot (-7.4%) halves the market drop and Citroen (+13.7%) posts the only double-digit gain in the Top 13 albeit on a particularly low base a year ago in December 2017 when the French carmaker it was outsold by Volkswagen for the first time in history. Volkswagen (-10.7%), which misses out on reclaiming the 4th annual spot it held back in 2017 off Dacia (-12.4%) by just 35 units at year-end… Toyota (-3.2%) once again delivers an extremely solid performance thanks to the strength of its hybrid lineup whereas premium fares Audi (-39.1%), BMW (-30.8%) and Mercedes (-22.1%) all implode. Opel (-10%), Fiat (-11.1%) and Ford (-13.7%) manage to fall slightly slower than the market but still lodge double-digit declines. Seat (+18.5%) and Skoda (+16.4%) are the best performers in the Top 20 above Kia (-0.2%) and Mini (-0.6%) managing stable sales. Further down, Tesla (+10.3%), Bentley (+8.3%), Lexus (+5.9%) and Mitsubishi (+5.6%) are also in positive. Infiniti (-88.1%), Porsche (-72.8%), Nissan (-56%), Alfa Romeo (-51.1%) and Jeep (-44.5%) remain completely paralysed by the WLTP transition.

Citroen C3 sales soar 24% year-on-year at home in December.

First Top 20 finish for the VW T-Roc in France.

Over in the models ranking, we have a podium of very resilient superminis: the Renault Clio (-0.5%), Peugeot 208 (+5%) and Citroen C3 (+24%) all fare much better than their home market, but for the latter this is not enough to topple the Peugeot 3008 (-24%) from its annual podium. The Dacia Sandero (+8%) is once again surprisingly strong, in contrast with the rest of the Dacia lineup this month and despite being due for replacement in a few months. The Renault Captur (-43%) posts another dismal result but rallies back up 6 spots on November to #6, while the Renault Twingo (+14%) scores an impressive double-digit gain and the VW Polo (+8%) signs a second consecutive Top 10 finish earning it the #1 foreigner spot by the skin of its teeth over the Toyota Yaris (+1%). The Renault Zoe positively smashes all records this month: ranking at #16 (previous best #20 last month), volume at 2.558 (previous best 2.245 in March 2018) and share at 1.5% (previous best 1.1% last month). The VW T-Roc (+276%) is up 10 ranks on last month to break into the French Top 20 for the first time, while the Peugeot 508 (+77%) is now taking advantage of the new generation, up 41 spots on November, selling almost 3 times as much as its archenemy the Renault Talisman (-43%). The Citroen C4 Spacetourer (#29), in actual fact a renamed C4 Picasso, is the best-selling 2018 launch ahead of the Peugeot Rifter (#61), Citroen C5 Aircross (#64), BMW X2 (#75), Audi Q8 (#138) and DS 3 Crossback (164), the latter making its very first appearance in the French charts. Notice also the Fiat Panda (+137%), Citroen C3 Aircross (+73%), Citroen C4 Cactus (+61%), Opel Corsa (+46%) and Ford Fiesta (+28%) all posting spectacular gains in the Top 50.

Previous month: France November 2018: Peugeot leads, Renault sinks, Dacia shines in market down 4.7%

One year ago: France December 2017: Volkswagen above Citroen for the first time in history

Full December 2018 Top 45 All-brands, Top 310 All-models and Top 10 private sales below.

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