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France First Half 2019: Citroen (+11.4%), Mercedes (+7.5%) strong in market down -1.8%

The Citroen C3 Aircross could be headed towards its first annual Top 10 finish at home.

This article has been updated with the Top 42 brands, Top 275 models and Top 10 private sales.

The French new car market edges down -1.8% over the First Half 2019 to 1.166.443 units, still the 6th largest Half-year volume in French history (see below). Private sales are struggling this year, down -7.3% to 519.707 and a lowest ever 44.5% share vs. 47.2% over the same period a year ago, while company sales hold 21% and dealership demo sales are at 17%. Renault (-6.3%) loses almost one percentage point of market share at 19% while Peugeot (-4.4%) loses 0.5 to 17.5%. Each manufacturer has specific strengths: Peugeot is #1 with private buyers at 15.1% share vs. 14.5% for Renault while Renault leads with company sales at 25.9% vs. 24.4%. For once, Citroen (+11.4%) is the best performer and the only double-digit gainer in the Top 15, climbing back above the symbolic 10% share milestone at 10.6%.

Thanks to the A-Class (+77%), Mercedes is back inside the Top 10.

Highest annual and half-year volumes in French history:

Annual volume recordsHalf-year volume records
2.309.130 (1990)1.225.148 (H1 2011)
2.274.307 (1989)1.204.411 (H1 2001)
2.268.671 (2009)1.200.103 (H1 1990)
2.254.732 (2001)1.189.434 (H1 2010)
2.217.149 (1988)1.188.150 (H1 2018)
2.212.661 (2010)1.166.443 (H1 2019)
2.204.065 (2011)1.158.446 (H1 2002)
2.173.481 (2018)1.156.867 (H2 1988)

Thanks to its new small SUV lineup, Volkswagen (+2.9%)  bounces back above Dacia (-1.6%) for #4, both carmakers holding 6.6% of the French market over the period. Toyota (+4.5%) cements its 6th position thanks to strong private sales, a channel where it almost matches Volkswagen at 31.785 deliveries and 6.1% vs. 33.534 and 6.4%. Mercedes (+7.5%) remains the best-selling luxury marque and reenters the overall Top 10 above Audi (+4%) and BMW (-8.8%). Seat (+15%), Skoda (+7.3%), Suzuki (+4.1%) and Opel (+3.8%) also power ahead in the Top 20, while further down Tesla (+493.8%), Alpine (+355.5%), Mitsubishi (+83.4%), Volvo (+14%) and Smart (+12.5%) impress.

Last hurrah for the Renault Clio IV

Model-wise, the First Half of 2019 is the calm before the storm as the new Renault Clio V and Peugeot 208 II will take control in H2, which will result in interesting/unusual Full Year rankings. We decided at BSCB to share with you in detail the generation change of France’s two best-sellers with monthly split figures by generation. For now, the Renault Clio IV (-9.7%) remains in the lead ahead of the Peugeot 208 I (-0.1%) but the latter was #1 in May and June just as the Clio IV was fading away and the Clio V was gearing up (#15 in May, #11 in June). The Citroen C3 (+4%) overtakes the Peugeot 3008 (-14%) to land on the podium, if maintained until the end of the year it would be the first time the C3 – or any Citroen – ranks on the French podium since 2013. The rest of the Top 10 (Captur, Sandero, 2008, 308 and Duster) is unchanged on H1 2018, except for the Citroen C3 Aircross (+26.9%) headed towards its first annual Top 10 finish vs. #12 in 2018.

The VW T-Roc is up 43% so far in 2019 in France.

3 declining Renaults are lurking just outside the Top 10 (Twingo, Megane and Scenic), meaning that for the 2nd year in a row and only the 2nd time in 41 years, there are no foreign nameplates in the French Top 13. The Toyota Yaris (+16.3%) edges past the VW Polo (-0.8%) to snap the title of #1 foreigner for just 344 sales, both distancing a very dynamic Opel Corsa (+21.4%), the Fiat 500 (-6.4%) and Ford Fiesta (+3.3%) with the VW Golf and Tiguan both down 6.5% below. The Mercedes A-Class (+76.9%) has hit the bullseye with its new generation, while the VW T-Roc (+43%), Fiat 500X (+24.9%) and Citroen C4 Cactus (+17.9%) also post very strong results. In the new launches aisle, the Citroen C5 Aircross (#16) dominates for now with a short incursion in the monthly Top 10 in April, but it will soon be caught up by the Renault Clio V (#32), while the VW T-Cross (#70), Toyota Corolla (#81) and DS 3 Crossback (#91) show promising potential, all breaking into the Top 50 in June. The Tesla Model 3 did so spectacularly in March (#42) and is back up to #56 in June, ranking #80 over H1.

The Kangoo remains the #1 LCV in France. Image credits: Transport Executive

Over in the private sales channel, the Dacia Sandero (-1.2%) cements its leadership with 6.2% share, well above the Peugeot 208 (-11.4%) and Renault Clio IV/V (-5.7%) both at 4.8%, followed by the Citroen C3 (-3%) and Dacia Duster (-23.9%). The Light Commercial Vehicle market is up 5.6% year-on-year to 254.708 units, and Renault (+6.5%) remains ultra-dominant at 31.1% share followed by Peugeot (+8%) at 17.6%, both manufacturers improving their share year-on-year and adding up to 48.7% of the market vs. 48% a year ago. Below, Citroen (-2.3%) and Fiat (-0.3%) lose ground while Ford (+14.6%) and Mercedes (+11.2%) are in excellent shape, joined by Toyota (+14.6%) and Opel (+13.6%) among the top brands delivering double-digit gains. In the models charts, the Renault Kangoo (+21.3%) is easily headed towards a 22nd consecutive year in pole position, with the Renault Master III (+8.2%), Trafic (+9.1%) and Fuat Ducato (+0.9%) in tow. The Peugeot Partner (+12.6%), Expert (+16.1%) and Boxer (+15%) also impress in the Top 10 while the Citroen Berlingo III lands directly at #8.

Previous post: France June 2019: Renault Clio V just misses out on Top 10, Twingo at highest in 8 years in market down -8.4%

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

Full H1 2019 Top 42 brands, Top 275 models, Top 10 private sales, Top 10 LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models below.

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