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France January 2019: Peugeot #1, Citroen at highest in 3.5 years, Mercedes, VW strong in market down 1.1%

The C5 Aircross breaks into the Top 30 and helps Citroen to its highest share since July 2015 while Peugeot is #1 for the 4th time in the past 5 months. 

This post has been updated with the Top 40 brands, Top 260 models and Top 10 private sales.

New car sales in France have almost completely recovered from yellow vests and post-WLTP disruption with January down just -1.1% to 155.080 units vs. a ghastly -14.5% in December. Private (-0.3%) sales over-perform slightly and reach 49.6% share, well above the 48.3% it commanded over the Full Year 2018. Fleet sales account for 24.5% of the market vs. 23.3% over FY2018, while tactical sales recede at 24.4% share vs. 25.9% in FY2018, with demo sales surging 17.4% to 16.8% share and short-term rental sales plunging 24.1% to 8.1% share. The demise of diesel sales is accelerating in January with sales of this fuel source freefalling another -17.8% year-on-year to fall to 34.2% share vs. 35.8% in December, 38.9% over the FY2018 and 47.3% over FY2017. Peugeot (-23.1%), Renault (-25.1%), Ford (-35.7%), Fiat (-49%), Opel (-53%) and Nissan (-65%) see even worse diesel results this month. Volkswagen (+40.6%) is the exception thanks to the T-Roc, Touran (+75%) and Polo (+400%). In contrast, petrol sales gain 8.9% to 58% share vs. 54.7% in FY2018, with Peugeot (+11%), Renault (+9.4%), Opel (+42%), Suzuki (+26.6%), Toyota (+22%), Kia (+21%) and Mini (+19.5%) over-performing. Hybrid sales gain 5.3% to 5% shares with Toyota holding 70% of this market, while electric sales fall back to 2% share vs. 2.7% in December.

The VW T-Roc now clearly outsells the Golf in France.

Peugeot (-5.9%) soars to 19.1% share vs. 16.4% in December and 17.9% over the Full Year 2018, managing to snap the pole position for the 4th time in the past 5 months and the 7th time in the past 12, having also topped the French brands charts in January 2017 and 2018. Private sales drop 10% while tactical sales grow but remain contained at 19.2% of its mix. Although Renault (-3.4%) drops slightly slower, it falls to a paltry 17% share vs. 18.9% in December and 18.7% over the FY2018, with private sales (+0.7%) edging up and tactical sales at 21% of its mix. Citroen (+1.6%) hits 11.3% share, well above the 9.8% it commanded both in December and FY2018, in fact its highest share at home since July 2015, helped by the gearing up of the new C5 Aircross (see further down). Private sales (+1%) account for 55.7% of its mix, Citroen holding a 12.7% share on the private channel alone. Tactical sales are stable at 20.3% of its mix but the brand is weak on the long-term rentals (or leases) where its share is down to 8.5%.

The new A-Class helps Mercedes up 46.3% in January.

Volkswagen (+17.2%) compensates for a particularly weak January 2018 and is back above Dacia (-5.4%) for the 4th place overall. However the German brand owes a large part of this performance to strong demo sales (+57%) accounting for 24.1% of its mix. Dacia pays for poor private sales (-12.7%) but, a rare fact, sees its demo sales soar (+29%) thanks to the Duster, outright best-seller in that channel this month with 1.658 units (+26%) or almost half of its total for the month. Below, Toyota (+5.1%) posts another very strong score at 5.4% share vs. 4.5% over FY2018 but this is mainly due to a demo and rental sales push whereas private sales only gain 1%, Opel (+7.6%) does even better and rallies back up 4 spots on December to #7 and 3.8% vs. 3.3% over FY2018 thanks to private sales surging 31%, distancing Ford (-15.5%) and Fiat (-6.8%) suffering from a (rather healthy) 45% drop of its short-term rental sales, a channel where it usually “excels”, while private sales rebound up 27%. Mercedes (+46.3%) posts the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 20, with Volvo (+32.8%) and DS (+21%) also very strong while Mitsubishi (+196.5%), Tesla (+166.7%), Smart (+56.4%), Ferrari (+38.9%), Suzuki (+15.6%), Hyundai (+13.2%), Mini (+7.4%) and Kia (+6.7%) make themselves noticed and Nissan (-45%) continues its descent to hell.

Partly thanks to the new XC40, Volvo soars 32.8% in France in January.

Model-wise, although all in negative the entire Top 4 evolves at higher market shares than their FY2018 levels. The Renault Clio (-5.6%) remains in the lead at 5.7% share but suffers from a loss in short-term rental sales, while the Peugeot 208 (-7.3%) falls faster but holds a strong 5% share vs. 4.3% in December, the Peugeot 3008 (-8%) is at 4.4% share vs. 3.9% over FY2018 and the Citroen C3 (-3.7%) is at 3.9% vs. 3.6%. The Peugeot 208 (4.280) is the favourite of private buyers above the Renault Clio (3.943) and Dacia Sandero (3.866) while it’s the Clio that leads leases at 2.697 ahead of the Peugeot 3008 (1.594) and 308 (1.149). The Citroen C3 Aircross (+27.4%) posts the largest gain in the Top 10 and hits a new record 8th place, now just a few hundred sales below its direct competitors the Renault Captur (#5) and Peugeot 2008 (#6). After having abandoned the 2018 #1 foreigner title at the last minute to the VW Polo (+13.2%), the Toyota Yaris (-1.3%) reclaims that title in January at #12 overall vs. #14 for the Polo, only just outselling an Opel Corsa (+66.1%) in excellent shape. The VW T-Roc (+218.9%) posts a 2nd consecutive month (and ever) inside the French Top 20, now frankly outselling both the VW Golf (-26.3%) and Tiguan (+4.6%).

First Top 100 ranking at home for the Alpine A110.

The Citroen C4 Spacetourer (#27) leads recent launches but it’s the Citroen C5 Aircross (#29) that progresses the fastest, up 35 spots on December to break into the French Top 30 (and Top 50) for the first time, with demo sales accounting for a relatively small 35.2% of its mix. Citroen announced the C5 Aircross represents 20% of its total orders and two-thirds come from private buyers, a very high and encouraging ratio. The Renault Zoe (+136.3%) includes 790 private sales, managing to outsell the Kadjar (704) and coming close to the Scenic (822) in this channel. The Ford Ecosport (+109%), Fiat Panda (+99.4%), Mercedes A-Class (+64.3%), Citroen Berlingo (+64.2%), Seat Arona (+56.4%), Hyundai Kona (+53%) and Peugeot 508 (+49.7%) thanks to the new gen also make waves near the top. Let’s also salute the first Top 100 finish of the Alpine A110 since its rebirth (#96), the DS 3 Crossback at #150 and the arrival of the Seat Tarraco at #176.

Previous post: France Full Year 2018: PSA strong, Dacia overtakes VW, Clio marks 20 years on top, no foreigner in the Top 13 for the first time in 40 years

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

One year ago: France January 2018: Peugeot up 10.5% to highest share this decade

Full January 2019 Top 40 brands, Top 260 models and Top 10 private sales below.

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