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France November 2019: Renault Clio V and Peugeot 208 II take control in market propped up by demo sales (+36%)

The Renault Clio V and Peugeot 208 II have now taken control of the French charts.

12/12 update: Now with the Top 315 All-models.

New car sales in France edge up 0.7% year-on-year in November to 172.735 units, but with 2 less selling days than in November 2018 this actually corresponds to a vey solid 11.3% uptick in real terms. But don’t get the Champagne out just yet as there are humbling signs to this seemingly extravagant progression as we’ll see further down. The French market is starting to be significantly impacted by the steep price increase (malus) for polluting vehicles due on January 1, 2020, carmakers self-registering cars this year so they can sell them cheaper next year. The year-to-date volume is now down a tiny -0.2% to 2.003.089 units, setting the scene for a potential small bump up by the time 2019 comes to an end given December 2018 was down -14%. This is only the 7th time in French history that the 2 million sales mark is eclipsed after just 11 months, and the third time this decade after 2011 (2.016.412) and 2018 (2.008.091), the record being 2.165.728 in 1990. Suspiciously, 21.503 sales were registered on Thursday 28/11 and 23.046 on Friday 29/11, or a whopping 26% of the monthly total in the last two recorded days of the month.

Private sales tumble down -15.9% year-on-year to 73.999 and a paltry 42.8% share – to BSCB knowledge the lowest private sales ratio ever recorded in France – vs. 48.7% in November 2018, 50.9% in November 2017 and 44.9% so far in 2019. In contrast, company sales gain 2.1% to 42.717 and 24.7%  share vs. 24.4% in November 2018 and 21.5% year-to-date. Demo sales are almost solely responsible for the November market uptick, surging 36% year-on-year to 35.873 and 20.8% share vs. 15.4% a year ago and 18% YTD. Diesel sales are bouncing back slightly: after falling to 31% in August, it came back up to 33.5% in October and ends November at 34.2% vs. 34% over 11 months. Traditional hybrids are also up at 5.4% vs. 4.8% YTD but EVs are down from 2.3% in both September and October to 1.8% this month.

The Renault Clio V is #1 in France in November, overall and with companies.

Behind Renault’s spectacular year-on-year gain (+26.9%) that enables the brand to remain #1 above Peugeot (-4%) hides a particularly reckless use of artificial sales. Peugeot is indeed in the lead with private buyers at 11.705 (-14.5%) and 15.8% share vs. just 9.790 (-16.1%) and 13.2% for Renault, only slightly above Citroen (8.466): this means private sales only represent 30% of Renault sales in November vs. 42.8% national average! Peugeot is also #1 with companies including leases at 11.660 and a whopping 27.3% share vs. 22.7% for Renault. On the other hand Renault is the king of tactical (read artificial) sales in November: 7.685 demos, up an indecent 202% year-on-year vs. 4.409 for Peugeot, and 5.358 rental sales (+64.5%)… Citroen (-3.2%) can’t keep its head above water and is stuck just under 10% share like YTD, well below its share of private buyers (11.4%).

Despite a -7.7% drop, Volkswagen is back to #4 above Dacia (-20.9%) and Toyota (-13.3%) both in rare difficulty. VW is above Toyota this month with private buyers but not year-to-date, and the German carmaker has also pushed strongly on demo sales accounting for 27% of its November total. Below Ford (+3.5%) solid at #7 and holding a strong 4.3% share with private buyers, Mercedes (-5.7%) thanks to short-term rentals up 92.6% is back above BMW (+18.3%) in the premium race just as Audi (+33.1%) is stuck outside the Top 10 despite a spectacular recovery on weak post-WLTP year-ago volumes and a strong reliance on short-term rentals (+43.1%). Nissan (+40.1%) partly thanks to demo sales accounting for 40% of its November volume, Seat (+23.1%), Skoda (+17.8%) and Hyundai (+15%) also just get back to normal, their impressive upticks just compensating for a particularly low year-ago comparison base. On the other hand Opel (-37.6%) is hurting from the loss of the Adam, Mokka and Karl despite huge demo sales representing 50% of its November volume. Porsche (+642.2%), Tesla (+127.7%), Alpine (+53.5%), Lamborghini (+44.4%), Land Rover (+36.3%) nd  Mazda (+25.1%) impress further down.

The Peugeot 208 II is #2 in France overall but #1 with private buyers.

The stage is set in the models ranking: taking the relay from the previous generations, the Renault Clio V (5.2%) and Peugeot 208 II (3.8%) are the two best-selling vehicles at home for the first time. This is the second time the Clio V tops French charts after last September, while the 208 II is up a fantastic 10 spots on October to land at #2. Including the previous gens, the Clio (6.3%) has a thin edge over the 208 (5.6%). In fact, coinciding with its 2nd generation’s first full month in market, the 208 is already #1 with private buyers at 4.656 sales (including 3.764 for the 208 II) vs. 3.763 for the Dacia Sandero and 3.201 for the Clio, which compensates with a company sales pole position at 3.587 vs. 2.190 for the 208. Having the 208 II as the private buyer’s favourite and the Clio V king of other channels could be a long-term trend: an October readers poll by the most popular French automotive weekly Auto Plus showed 72% preferred the new 208 vs. just 23% the Clio

The Peugeot 3008 (-5.2%) rounds up the podium like last month and is up to #2 with companies, while the Citroen C3 (-9.7%) is toppled from its first ever  pole position in October down to #4 and the Renault Captur I (+30.6%) benefits from end-of-life discounts unlike the Peugeot 2008 I (-33.8%). The Renault Captur II (#43) and 2008 II (#202) take a deep breath before waging their renewed war over the coming months when they both kick start consumer sales. Excellent month for the Renault Megane (+38.8%) up to #10, the Toyota Yaris (-3.7%) remains the most popular foreigner at #12 above the VW Polo (-22.5%) at #15 but ranks #5 with private buyers vs. #11 for the Polo. The Peugeot Rifter (+275.1%), Ford Kuga (+275.1%), Nissan Qashqai (+153.6%), Peugeot 508 (+145.9%), Renault Kadjar (+67.8%), Scenic (+45.8%) and VW T-Roc (+21.8%) also shine in remainder of the Top 40.

Previous month: France October 2019: Market up 8.7%, Peugeot 208 II lands at #12, Clio pulled to #2, Citroen C3 scores first ever pole position

One year ago: France November 2018: Peugeot leads, Renault sinks, Dacia shines in market down -4.7%

Full November 2019 Top 50 All-brands and Top 315 All-models below.

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