All French car dealerships must now remain closed until 15 April. Picture Reuters Gonzalo Fuentes.
After drops of -13.4% in January and -2.7% in February, the French new car market sinks -23.2% over the first two weeks of March to 54.990 sales vs. 71.634 over the same period in 2019, according to data shared by local website autoactu.com. On March 15 and in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus that has infected 5.437 and killed 127 in France, the French government ordered all non-essential businesses to close until April 15, and that includes all car dealerships in the country – car servicing remains active. This means the sales figure you see above won’t change much by the time March comes to an end.
That would equate to a -75.6% drop on the March 2019 figure of 225.818 registrations, and if there is no amendment to the lockdown policies and dealerships indeed don’t reopen for the month, this will be the weakest monthly sales result in France since August 1968 (47.075) and the weakest March volume in at least 65 years (since 1955). April sales should be similarly affected as at this stage car dealerships aren’t allowed to reopen until mid-month.
Private sales (-27.9%) are more affected than business registrations (-12.7%). Looking into the detail by brand, at mid-March and according to Autoactu and Autoways Renault has reclaimed the market leadership with 22.7% share ahead of Peugeot at 18.6%, Citroen comes this with 8.5% ahead of Toyota (5.8%) returning to the record 4th place it held in January, Dacia (5%), Volkswagen (4.9%), Kia (3.3%) and Ford (3%).