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France September 2019: Renault Clio 5 clocks first win, Opel Corsa #1 foreigner in market up 16.6%

First monthly win at home for the Renault Clio 5, but can it resist the arrival of the Peugeot 208 II next month?

10/10 update: Now with Top 40 brands and Top 280 models.

After suffering from an unusually high comparison set last month due to rushed pre-WLTP year-ago sales, the French market experiences the opposite effect in September at 174.459 registrations, up +16.6% on depleted post-WLTP year ago volumes. A more realistic comparison set is a slim +2.2% uptick on September 2017 figures. Year-to-date, new car sales are now down -1.3% to 1.641.471 units, the 6th highest score all-time at this stage of the year and third best in the 15 years just below 2018 (1.662.684) and 2011 (1.661.376). However the channel mix isn’t particularly healthy with private sales at a low 44.8% (77.632), in line with the 45% they hold YTD (738.720), while short-term rentals are in line with seasonal scores at 6% of the market (10.549) vs. 12.6% YTD (206.987). In contrast, company sales including long term leases are up at 24.6% share (42.760) vs. 21.3% YTD and demo sales are particularly high at 20.8% share (36.262) vs. 17% YTD.

As is unmistakably the case during end-of-quarter months, Renault (+29.8%) reclaims the brand lead for only the 4th time this year after March, May and June with 21% share while also benefitting from new launches and a paltry September 2018 comparison linked with playing the pre-WLTP game very hard. In comparison Peugeot (+3.2%) had a WLTP-ready lineup last year and isn’t therefore able to surge at 17.5% share. Citroen (+18.8%) almost exactly matches its YTD share at 10.8% vs. 10.9%, while Volkswagen (+46.9%) recuperates from annihilated year-ago volumes ahead of Dacia (-2.4%), Toyota (+12.4%), Opel (+1.3%) and Ford (+16%), all under performing. Mercedes (-2.9%) leads premium carmakers at #9 above BMW (-5.6%) and Audi (+27.1%) with Nissan (+87.8%), Seat (+71.6%), Skoda (+55.6%), DS (+30.9%) and Volvo (+25.9%) also vastly outperforming the market inside the Top 20. Further down, notice also Tesla (+629.8%) breaking its ranking record to #21 vs. #23 last March and June, Porsche (+198.4%) and Land Rover (+84.4%) simply recuperating from dismal year-ago sales and Alpine (+72%) in excellent shape.

The Opel Corsa is #1 “foreigner” in France in September. A taste of things to come with the new generation (pictured)?

Looking at brand sales by channels, Renault leads the private sales channel at 18.5% share, distancing Peugeot (14.6%) who remains #1 YTD, but just, with 14.64% vs. 14.58%. Citroen ranks #3 at 10.8%, distancing Dacia (8.6%) for once, with Toyota (6.6%) remaining above VW (5.6%) and Opel (4.4%) strong. Brands selling the most to private buyers are Suzuki (80% of its mix), Dacia (72.9%), Mini (61.3%), Kia (61%), Hyundai (58.8%) and Seat (57.7%). French carmaker’s sales are relatively healthy this month with demo sales well below average for Renault (15%), Peugeot (14.5%) and Citroen (18.3%) whereas Mercedes (43%), BMW (36%), Opel (34.6%) and Fiat (29%) fill up on demos in September.

The models ranking sees a rare event: a new #1 in the form of the Renault Clio 5. After a handful of hesitant scores since its June launch (#11 in June, #15 in July and #7 in August), September marks the true landing of the new generation of a nameplate that has been France’s best-seller a record 20 years between 1992 and 2018. With over 8.200 sales and 4.8% share, the Clio 5 takes it where the Clio 4 left it last June (9.092 and 3.9%), the summer break having acted as a transition buffer between the two generations. Now that the Peugeot 208 I is about to go through the same transition with the 208 II officially launching this October, the Citroen C3 (+11.1%) has managed to rank at a record #2 for the past 3 months, as the Peugeot 208 I (-15.3%) is now decelerating but due to the oddities of this changeover year, has now passed the Clio 4 to rank #1 YTD with 76.108 sales vs. 73.753.

The Peugeot 508 (+776.9%) hits its highest ranking in 3 years.

The Peugeot 3008 (+1.4%) is faithful to the #4 spot it also holds YTD, distancing the Renault Twingo (+66.4%), Captur (+16.7%), Peugeot 2008 (+2.3%) and 308 (+10.3%) with the Renault Megane (+44.7%) leaping back up 6 spots on August into the Top 10. The Opel Corsa (+18.8%) is the best-selling foreigner in France at #11 overall, its third victory in the past decade after May 2011 and September 2018 and its highest ranking since May 2011 (#9), a score reached thanks to strong demo volumes for both the outgoing and new generations. However, now that Opel is owned by PSA the same way Dacia is owned by Renault and is counted as French, can we still consider Opel a foreign brand? Remarkably, the Toyota Yaris (+11%) at #12 and the VW Polo (+87%) at #16 are the only other foreigners in the September Top 20.

Notice also the Peugeot 508 up 787.6% to hit its highest ranking since August 2016 at #25 thanks to its new generation, the VW T-Cross up 15 spots on August to a record #28, the Toyota Corolla up 4 to #38, the Tesla Model 3 up 76 to #43 and the DS 3 Crossback up 11 to return into the Top 50 for the 3rd time in the past 4 months at #50. The Skoda Scala is up 23 spots to #119, the Mazda CX-30 up 58 to #120 and the Peugeot 208 II up 21 to #137 and should truly take off next month after its official launch. Looking at the private sales ranking, the Renault Clio is #1 above the Dacia Sandero, Citroen C3 and Peugeot 208 with the Renault Twingo rounding up the Top 5 ahead of the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. The Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa and Dacia Duster complete the Top 10 while the Peugeot 3008, 308 and Renault Megane disappear from it.

Previous month: France August 2019: Demo sales lift Smart (+479.5%), Suzuki (+130.5%) to record rankings in market down -13%

One year ago: France September 2018: Toyota scores first Top 5 in market down -12.8%

Full September 2019 Top 40 brands and Top 280 models below.

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