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France Full Year 2019: 6th consecutive gain (+1.9%) lifts market to 9-year high, Peugeot 208 I tops changeover year

2019 is both the first ever win and swan song for the Peugeot 208 I in France.

Discover over 125 years worth of French Historical Data here.

03/02 update: Now with Top 10 private sales.

21/01 update: Now with Top 415 All-models.

09/01 update: Now with Top 65 All LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models.

Thanks to an end-of-year artificially lifted by stock clearances ahead of a malus tax rise in January 2020, the French new car market cruises to a 6th consecutive year of gains in 2019 at +1.9% to 2.214.279 registrations. This is the 2nd largest annual volume this decade below 2010 (2.252.661) and the 7th largest all time, the record remaining the 2.309.130 units of 1990, or less than 95.000 additional sales. However after a pause in 2018 private sales are sinking yet again and faster than ever at -6.8% to just 988.872 units and lowest-ever 44.3% share vs. 48.5% in 2018, 47.8% in 2017 and 49.3% in 2016 (these four years remaining the only ones in French history below the symbolic 50% mark) but 66% a decade ago in 2009. Company sales (+25%) and long term leases (+29.5%) add up to 543.857 units or 24.6% share vs. 21.2% in 2018. Total non-tactical sales (private+business) add up to 1.532.729 (+1.1%) or 69.2% share vs. 69.8% a year ago.

The Renault Clio IV ranked #1 up until April. Total Clio sales rank #1 annually.

In contrast, tactical sales soar 7.8% year-on-year to 658.153 and 29.7% vs. 28.1% in 2018 and 23% in 2010. This means that roughly 1 in every 3.5 new car sold in France in 2019 does not have a real buyer. Within tactical sales, demo sales shoot up 13.8% to 382.119 and 17.3% share vs. 15.4% in 2018 partly thanks to aggressive stock clearances in November (21% share) and December (24% share), short term rentals drop -2.3% to 241.046, and self-registrations gain 17.8% to 35.000. Diesel registrations continue to plummet at -10.6% to 755.579 and 34.1% share vs. 38.9% in 2018, 47% in 2017, 52% in 2016, 58% in 2015, 64% in 2014, 67% in 2013 an 73% in 2012. In reverse, petrol sales logically gain 7.9% to 1.281.802 and 57.9% vs. 54.7% in 2018 and 47.6% in 2017. Electrified sales soar 35.5% to 186.196 and 8.4% share vs. 6.3% in 2018, that includes 125.432 hybrids (+17.9%), 42.764 EVs (+37.7%) and 18.000 PHEV (+23.9%).

The Citroen C3 scored its first ever French pole position in October.

In a market starting to get saturated with crossovers and SUVs at 38% share vs. 36% in 2018 and compared to 49% for hatches and sedans, French carmakers (+0.8%) trail the market and see their drop from 57.4% to 56.8%. PSA incl. Opel (+1.4%) is down to 32% share vs. 32.2% last year and Renault Group excl. Nissan (+0.3%) is down to 24.8% vs. 25.2%. The Volkswagen Group (+10.4%) soars to 12.9% share vs. 11.9% in 2018, Toyota Group (+5.3%) is up to 4.9% and FCA (-12.8%) falls to 3.9% vs. 4.6%. In the brands ranking, Renault (+0.2%) edges up but sees its share thaw to 18.4%, kept afloat by demo sales accounting for 18.8% of its mix. Peugeot (-2.6%) drops almost one percentage point of share to 17.1% because of its lack of reliance on demo sales (only 13.5% of its mix). However Peugeot remains #1 with private buyers for the 2nd year running (and ever) despite a steep -16% drop to 142.455 units and 14.4% share vs. 16.1% in 2018, only 223 sales above Renault down -12.6% to 142.232 and 14.4% share also vs. 15.4% a year ago.

Skoda delivers a 4th consecutive all-time annual record in 2019.

In third place, Citroen (+9.9%) leaps back above the symbolic 10% share mark at 10.6% while Volkswagen (+6.3%) reclaims the 4th place overall off Dacia (-1%). Toyota (+4.6%) eclipses a 12-year old annual volume record at 101.730 (vs. 100.724 in 2007), widening the gap with Ford (-4.6%), Fiat (-8.4%) despite 47% tactical sales and Opel (-6.6%) whose 46.5% tactical sales couldn’t offset the discontinuation of the Karl, Adam and Mokka. The only premium marque in the Top 10 is Mercedes (+6.7%) also breaking its all-time volume record at 70.214 thanks to the new A-Class and keeping BMW (+2.1%) and Audi (+11.5%) at bay. However this ranking changes depending on the channel: Audi is #1 premium with private buyers and BMW is #1 with companies at 4% share above Audi (3.65%) and Mercedes (3.6%). Mercedes actually achieves its leadership thanks to tactical sales representing 45% of its mix vs. 40% for BMW and 29% for Audi.

The Alpine brand smashes its 1972 volume record (1.181) to 3.147.

Below, a slew of 4 brands break their annual French volume record in 2019: Kia (+6.5%), Hyundai (+12.5%), Skoda (+16.2%) which scores a 4th consecutive record and Volvo (+18.2%) which smashes a 33-year old record thanks to SUVs accounting for 80% of its volume. These progressions are for the most part healthy since Kia (67.2%) and Hyundai (62%) are among the only 5 carmakers selling over 60% of their volumes to private buyers in 2019 alongside Dacia (75.1%), Suzuki (68.7%) and Mini (62.5%). Further down, Tesla (+494.4%) takes off thanks to the Model 3, Lexus (+17.3%) delivers an incredible 7th all-time record in the past 7 years, Porsche (+22%) also breaks its record but probably the most significant and relevant record in France this year is reborn brand Alpine (+172.2%) up 3-fold on its 2018 tally to 3.147 sales, smashing its previous best of 1.181 which was achieved back in… 1972!

The Renault Clio V topped the charts in September, November and December.

2019 is a transition year for the French models charts with the generation changeover of its two perennial best-sellers: Renault Clio IV to V and Peugeot 208 I to II. Counting both generations together, the Clio (+6.3%) remains easily in the lead with 131.500 units vs. 105.600 for the 208 (+3.1%), however French data allows us to delve into sales by generation so we’ll follow this methodology again. At this little game the Peugeot 208 I (-14.7%) ends the year in pole position, simply because its 2nd generation was launched in October vs. May for the Clio V and as a result it geared down much later. Awkwardly, it’s the 208 nameplate’s very first annual pole position in France, putting an end to 8 years of domination by the Renault Clio III and IV. The Citroen C3 (+3.6%) is up two spots to #2, its annual highest ever ranking in France, leapfrogging past both the Renault Clio IV (-35.2%) and Peugeot 3008 (-14%). The Renault Clio V manages to climb to #9 by year-end vs. #32 for the Peugeot 208 II. The changeover is clearly apparent in the monthly charts, with the Clio IV leading the way up until April, the 208 I taking the relay from May to August, the Clio V in front in September, November and December and the Citroen C3 managing a freak pole position (the nameplate’s first ever) in October.

The Dacia Sandero is the #1 vehicle with private buyers for the third year.

The Dacia Sandero (-1.1%) holds extremely well despite its age – it is due to be replaced in late 2020 – and scores a second straight Top 5 finish, its highest ranking in France. It remains by far the most popular vehicle with private buyers at 5.8% of that channel, 19.000 sales above the Peugeot 208 I (-27.1%). The Sandero distances the Renault Captur I (-5%) and Peugeot 2008 I (-10.7), already outsold by their 2nd generations in December. The Peugeot 308 (-10.7%) and Renault Twingo close out the Top 10 with very different fortunes, while the Dacia Duster (-4.6%), Citroen C3 Aircross (+7.2%) and Renault Megane (-2.7%) make sure there are no foreigners in the annual Top 13 for only the second time in the past 41 years. The last time this happened before 2018 was in 1979 when the Top 15 best-sellers were French, the most popular foreigner then being the Golf at #16 and 2% share… And there is a change of guard in the foreigners ranking: at #14 overall the made-in-France Toyota Yaris (+14.2%) is the best-seller for the first time in history, finally eclipsing the VW Polo (+4.5%) while the Opel Corsa (+3.8%) makes it only 3 foreigners in the Top 20 vs. 5 in 2018. The Yaris is also the #1 foreigner with private buyers, a channel where it ranks #6 in 2019, delivering the only year-on-year gain in the Top 6 (+12%).

The Peugeot 208 II ranked #2 overall both in November and December.

The Citroen C5 Aircross ends its first full year of sales at #17, the Citroen C4 Spacetourer at #31 and the DS 3 Crossback at #65. Below the Clio V and 208 II, the most popular 2019 launches are the VW T-Cross (#41), Toyota Corolla (#52), Renault Captur II (#88) and Tesla Model 3 (#89). If private buyers crown the Dacia Sandero as we saw above, company sales are dominated by the Renault Clio (7.9% share), Peugeot 3008 (6.8%), 308 (5.3%), 208 (4.6%) and Citroen C3 (4.2%). What are the premium models preferred by French private buyers? The Mini Hatch (1.1%), Mercedes A-Class (0.7%), Audi Q3 (0.5%), Audi A1 (0.5%) DS7 Crossback (0.5%), BMW X1 (0.4%), DS3 Crossback (0.4%), Audi Q2 (0.4%), Volvo XC40 (0.4%) and Tesla Model 3 (0.4%). Company prefer the Mercedes A Class (1.3%), DS7 Crossback (1.2%), BMW X1 (0.9%), Audi A3 (0.8%), Volvo XC60 (0.6%), Audi Q3 (0.6%), Mercedes GLC (0.6%), Mini Hatch (0.5%), Tesla Model 3 (0.5%) and BMW X3 (0.5%).

The Peugeot Partner (+24.8%) is up to #4 LCV in France in 2019.

The French Light Commercial Vehicle market (LCV), the largest in Europe, gains 4.5% in 2019 to 479.709 units. Renault (+5%) remains head and shoulders above the competition at 30.8% share, distancing Peugeot (+8.7%) at 17.8% and Citroen (+2%) at 15.4%. Fiat (-2.1%) is now threatened by Ford (+3.2%), Mercedes (+14.1%) posts the only double-digit gain in the Top 10 and advances to #6 and Toyota (+9.4%) is also very dynamic at #9. The Renault Kangoo (+9.7%) celebrates 22 consecutive years atop the LCV models charts, well above the Renault Master III (+11.7%) and Trafic (+19.7%) in a podium 100% Renault for the 2nd year running. The Peugeot Partner (+24.8%) and Citroen Berlingo III invite themselves inside the Top 5, knocking out the Fiat Ducato (+1.2%). Pickup sales have been hit full frontal by extravagant malus taxes making them a very discouraging buy: the Ford Ranger (-24.8%) still leads the way by far with just under 5.500 sales above the Toyota Hilux (-5.3%) at 4.200 and the Isuzu D-Max (-5.8%), Mitsubishi L200 (-5.1%) and Nissan NP300 (-49.7%) all around 1.700 units just as the VW Amarok (-83.1%) and Mercedes X-Class (-69.5%) implode and the Renault Alaskan (1.425 sales in 2018) disappears from the Top 100, selling less than 150 units this year.

Previous post: France December 2019: Pre-malus rise demo sales lift market up 27.7% to 9-year high, new Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 gear up

Previous year: France 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

Two years ago: France 2017: Clio #1, Peugeot 3008 on podium, Top 12 100% French for 1st time since 1980

Full Year 2019 Top 60 All-brands, All-time volume records for the Top 33 brands, Top 415 All-models, Top 10 private sales, Top 65 All LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

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