Strict confinement measures enacted in France on March 15 to stem the spread of the coronavirus have triggered the closure of all car dealerships. However deliveries of pre-ordered vehicles are authorised and according to weekly sales data shared by Autoways and relayed by local outlet Autoactu, new car sales have thinned to a trickle during the first week of lockdown (March 15-23) at -87% year-on-year to 5.942 registrations. This leads to month-to-date volumes down -53% to 60.935 units as of March 23, and a full month figure that should hover between 65.000 and 70.000.
The last time we saw such low monthly sales volume in France was during the seventies, with August 1972 at 70.662, August 1974 at 64.188 and August 1975 at 69.426. In France, March volumes are traditionally the highest all year alongside June (March 2019 was at 225.818 and March 2018 at 231.110) and the only two occurrences March sales fell below 120.000 in the past 55 years are in 1965 (110.790) and 1975 (119.089). March 2020 therefore marks a return to volumes not seen in 60 years, since the 69.249 sales of March 1960, a time when the Renault Dauphine was the country’s best-seller.
Strikingly, EV registrations have doubled year-on-year even in the current context to 5.325 (+107%) and 8.7% share, even holding a 18.4% market share over the 15-23 March period at 1.092 units. So far this month, the Renault Zoe leads the segment with 1.711 ahead of the Tesla Model 3 (1.302), Peugeot 208 (a little less than the overall 813 EVs registered by Peugeot) and the DS 3 Crossback (203).