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France February 2019: Citroen (+20.1%), Opel (+24.5%), fleet and rental sales pull market up 2.1%

The Citroen C5 Aircross is up to #23 at home.

This post has been updated with the Top 40 brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales.

In February, the French new car market (+2.1%) is back in positive for the first time since last August at 172.438 units, also tilting the YTD volume into positive territory at +0.5% and 327.517 sales. However this progression is mostly artificial with private sales depleted at -5.9% to 44.2% of the market vs. 47.9% a year ago in February 2018. Fleet sales on the other hand gain 6%  – that includes company and government sales as well as long-term leases – but the market’s uptick is mainly due to short-term rentals surging 21% while demo sales (+5.2%) are also up significantly to 14.6% share. Petrol sales gain 11.5% to 99.268 or 57.6% share, adding up to 189.144 or 57.7% (+10.2%) year-to-date, while diesel sales drop -11.4% to 61.599 and 35.7%, down 14.5% so far this year to 114.615 and 35% share. Hybrid sales have markedly slowed down their growth at just +1.9% in February to 8.330 vs. +4% YTD to 17.199 as do EVs up 46% to 2.879 vs. +82.3% and 5.938 in 2019 so far.

The Corsa (+75.8%) helps Opel up 24.5% in February.

Peugeot (+2.5%) spectacularly manages to holds the #1 brand title at home for the 5th time in the past 6 months and the 9th in the past 14: we are entering uncharted territory as never before had Peugeot showed such consistent stints in the highest ranking at home, and this despite a steep decline of its private sales (-20.3%). Renault (-1.4%) is the only Top 5 carmaker to post a year-on-year drop this month, due to weak private sales (-10.5%), a channel where it is however back above Peugeot. Already standing out in January, Citroen (+20.1%) is even more impressive in February, improving its share to 11.6%, its highest since July 2015 (12.1%) with a YTD volume now up 10.7%, thanks partly to strong private sales (+8.6%) in a declining channel where the C1 (+28%), C4 Cactus (+48%) and C5 Aircross (762 units) all shine.

Peugeot has now been the #1 brand in France during 5 of the past 6 months, a record.

Volkswagen (+3.1%) manages to contain Dacia (+3.4%) for the 4th month running, both brands registering market-beating gains despite declining private sales at -11% and -7.3% respectively. Toyota (-0.7%) is weaker than usual at #6 but Opel (+24.5%) celebrates its first profit in decades by scoring the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 15 whereas Fiat (-8%) and Ford (-7.7%) are in difficulty in the remainder of the Top 10. Mercedes (+2.4%) remains the #1 premium brand thanks to private sales soaring 27% on the A-Class (+274%), distancing BMW (-18.4%) and Audi (-6.7%) whose private sales implode at -18.7% and -28% respectively, while further down Smart (+81.9%), Volvo (+44.5%), DS (+25.7%), Seat (+16.6%), Skoda (+16.6%) and Hyundai (+13.6%) all impress. Nissan (-31.7%) remains in hell.

The VW Polo (+23.3%) is the #1 foreigner in France this month.

Model-wise, the Renault Clio (+25.9%) and Peugeot 208 (+12.2%) are potentially boosted by the start of runout discounts just as new generations for both models have now been unveiled, and are joined on a high-performing podium by the Citroen C3 (+13.6%), kicking the Peugeot 3008 (-13.8%) down to #4. In fact, there are only two declining nameplates in the Top 10, the other one being the Dacia Duster (-2.1%), with the Citroen C3 Aircross (+46%), Peugeot 308 (+10.8%), Renault Captur (+4.4%), Dacia Sandero (+4.3%) and Peugeot 2008 (+0.8%) all edging past their February 2018 volumes. With private buyers, the Dacia Sandero (-4.6%) is back to #1 both this month and YTD above the Clio (+9.1%) and C3 (+4.2%) while the Duster (-16.3%) ranks 5th despite a steep fall. Outside the Top 10, the VW Polo (+23.4%) is the #1 foreigner, distancing the Opel Corsa (+75.8%), Toyota Yaris (+1%), Ford Fiesta (+41.1%) and VW Golf (-10.2%) but the Yaris holds onto the #1 spot YTD, only one lonely sale above the Polo. Excellent performance of the Citroen C4 Cactus (+47%) breaking into the Top 20 for the first time since August 2016.

The Tesla Model 3 has landed in France. Picture courtesy L’Automobile Magazine.

The Citroen C5 Aircross is up a further 6 spots on January to a record #23, now the most popular new launch (<12 months) ahead of the Citroen C4 Spacetourer (#30) and Peugeot Rifter (#38), but the big news among newcomers this month is the landing of the Tesla Model 3 directly inside the Top 100 at #92 or 4th best-selling launch. The Toyota Auris becomes the Corolla again and lands at #115, with the Alpine A110 (#129), Seat Tarraco (#153), Audi Q8 (#154), DS 3 Crossback (#172), Kia Proceed (#180) and Jaguar i-Pace (#191) also making it into the Top 200. The Audi e-Tron also makes its first appearance in the French charts at #233. A handful of fairly recent crossovers excel this month such as the DS 7 Crossback (+665.3%), Volvo XC40 (+191.8%), Seat Arona (+104.9%), BMW X2 (+96.8%), VW T-Roc (+75.7%) and Hyundai Kona (+50.3%). The Ford Focus (+143%), Fiat Panda (+94.9%), Dacia Logan (+92.7%), Mercedes A-Class (+56%),  Suzuki Swift (+48.3%), Opel Crossland X (+40.1%) and Peugeot 508 (+39.8%) also make themselves noticed.

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

One year ago: France February 2018: Peugeot scores second straight month at #1

Full February 2019 Top 40 brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales below.

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