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France February 2020: Peugeot 208 II repeats at #1, 2008 II up to #4, private sales down to record-low 38.8% share

The Peugeot 2008 II breaks into its home Top 5 for the first time in February.

19/03 update: Now with the Top 285 All-models.

The French new car market records a second consecutive month in negative in February at a much more palatable -2.7% year-on-year to 167.785 units, leading to a year-to-date volume down -7.8% to 302.014, the lowest level at this stage of the year since 2015. This limited fall was unfortunately only made possible by filling up artificial channels, as private sales completely implode this month again at -15.5% to just 65.148 units for a 38.8% market share vs. 44.7% in February 2019. This is simply the lowest-ever recorded private sales share in French history. In contrast company sales soar 18.7% to 41.557 and 24.8% vs. 20.3% a year ago, demo sales gain 12.3% to 29.479 to 17.6% share vs. 15.2% in February last year, but short-term rentals drop -10.3% to 25.724 and 15.3% vs. 16.6%.

In fact, private sales could have fallen even more drastically, if it were not for the increasing popularity in France of leasing financing solutions. Indeed the leasing share of private sales in February is up to 41.7% vs. just 35.4% in February 2019 and 38% over the FY2019 thanks to stable volumes (-0.4%) at 16.869 LOAs (leasing with purchase option) and 10.329 LLD (long term leasing) according to Autoways. Year-to-date, private sales are down -20% to 123.875 and 41% share vs. 47.3% over the same period in 2019, company sales are up 8.4% to 74.228 and 24.6% share vs. 20.9%, demo sales gain 9.4% to 56.405 and 18.7% share vs. 15.7% and short-term rentals are down -14.2% to 36.171 and 12% vs. 12.9%. Petrol holds a 48.5% share in February, diesel is at 33.7% and electrified vehicles at 17.7% including 5.65% EVs (9.457) and 2.3% PHEVs.

The Peugeot 208 II is the most popular vehicle in France for the 2nd time.

Over in the brands ranking, Peugeot (+1.7%) once again goes against the grain to score a very strong 19.3% share and 20.4% YTD, its 2nd consecutive win and 5th monthly win in the past 12 months. Peugeot’s growth is very healthy: its private sales lift 1.4% to 10.772, company sales soar 6.4% to 11.093 whereas the artificial channels are contained: demo sales drop -3.3% to 3.421 despite two ongoing monumental launches (208 II and 2008 II). Renault (-3.1%) follows the market at 17.2% share and 17.5% YTD, and evolves almost at opposite ends from Peugeot with freefalling private sales at -24% to 9.325, soaring company sales (+27%), demo sales (+22.3%) and self-registrations (+35%). Citroen (-6.2%) falls faster than the market but remain at a solid 11.2% share vs. 11.4% YTD, with private sales sinking at -16.5% to 7.492 but company sales rising at +29.3% to 4.864.

BMW sales surge 36.8% thanks partly to the new 1 Series (+45.6%).

If Volkswagen (-14.1%) reclaims the #4 spot despite a steep dive due to private sales (-21.9% to 3.836) and company sales (-4.9%) down but demo sales up 24.9%, Toyota (+10.1%) remains at #4 YTD for now. Even better: the Japanese carmaker cracks the monthly French Top 5 for only the fourth time in history after September 2018 (#5), October 2018 (#5) and last month (#4), thanks to company sales doubling year-on-year to 1.659 and stable private sales up 0.6% to 4.430. Dacia (-26.9%) remains in difficulty as a large part of its lineup received a discouraging malus based on NEDC measures. WLTP-based malus pricing starts March 1 and the carmaker should see its sales get back on track then as its models are less penalised with this calculation method. BMW (+36.8%) manages the most spectacular surge in the Top 15, with Audi (+30.8%) close behind and Mercedes (-1.6%) in tow in the premium order. Hyundai (+29.1%) and Nissan (+15.3%) – thanks to company sales up 50% and demo sales up 15.3% – are also very strong, as are Porsche (+222.6%), Tesla (135.3%), DS (+113.5%), Lexus (+90%), Land Rover (+41.4%), Jaguar (+12%), Seat (+10%), Skoda (+6.8%) and Kia (+5%) further down. In contrast, Ford (-26.1%), Fiat (-24.8%) and Opel (-12.7%) all crash.

The DS 7 Crossback breaks into the Top 20 and helps lift DS sales up 113.5%.

Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 II – fresh from winning the coveted Europpean Car of the Year award off the likes of the Tesla Model 3, Porsche Taycan and… Renault Clio – easily repeats in pole position with an outstanding 5.8% share vs. just 4.5% for its archenemy the Renault Clio V. In just two months, the 208 II has accumulated a 6.000+ sales advantage over the Clio V (19.114 vs. 13.000) and is positioning itself ideally for an annual win in 2020. March 2020 data will give us a better indication whether the Clio V has the means to fight the 208 II in the long term. Note the e-208 EV variant accounts for 26% of all 208 II sales in February at 2.495 vs. 27% in January and 26.3% YTD at 5.032. It remains unclear whether the upcoming arrival of the Clio hybrid will help the nameplate reclaim the top spot as Renault’s eco-friendly sales seem to have already gone to the Zoe (+157%) already, down 10 spots on January to #13 but still extremely strong YTD at #6 and +212.2%.

The Citroen C3 (-22.8%) falls flat but manages to climb back onto the podium, a short length above the other hero of the month: the Peugeot 2008 II up 42.3% on its January volume to lift 3 spots and break into the French Top 5 for the first time at #4. For comparison, its nemesis the Renault Captur II is up a pushy 28.6% on last month to timidly break into the Top 10 at #9 with 2.3% share, a full percentage point below the 2008 II. Only the Renault Twingo (+1.8%) manages an uptick in the remainder of the Top 10 where the Peugeot 3008 (-17.7%), Dacia Sandero (-12.4%) and Peugeot 308 (-11.8%) all dangerously skid down. The Opel Corsa (+2%) takes the lead of the foreigner ranking at #11, slipping past the Toyota Yaris (-8%) down 8 spots on last month to #14, with the VW Polo (-35.1%), Tiguan (+5.9%), Nissan Qashqai (+1.8%) and Toyota C-HR (+10.7%) in tow. Other impressive gainers include the Citroen C5 Aircross (+59.6%) at #12 and the Peugeot 5008 (+20.2%) at #15. After equalling its ranking record last month at #32 (also hit in July 2018), the DS 7 Crossback (+63.3%) shoots up 11 spots to a new all-time high #21, becoming France’s most popular premium model above the DS 3 Crossback (#32), Mercedes A-Vlass (#36), Audi Q3 (#37), BMW X3 (#55), X1 (#56) and 1 Series (#59). The VW T-Cross (#45) and Ford Puma (#48) also shine among recent launches while the Mercedes GLB is up 123 spots to #126.

Previous month: France January 2020: Peugeot 208 II breaks nameplate record share, Renault Zoe up to #3 in market upended by new emission rules and dearer malus (-13.4%)

One year ago: France February 2019: Citroen (+20.1%), Opel (+24.5%), fleet and rental sales pull market up 2.1%

Full February 2020 Top 45 All-brands and Top 285 All-models below.

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