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France First Half 2020: EVs up 114% in worst year start since 1969 (-38.6%), discounted Clio V pips 208 II, Zoe in Top 10

The Renault Zoe and Peugeot e-208 are the stars of the EV segment in France. Picture autoplus.fr

17/07 update: Now with Top 375 All-models.

2/07 update: Now with the Top 54 All-brands, Top 58 All LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models.

French new car sales have been on an absolute rollercoaster over the First Half of 2020, first handicapped by stricter emission rules in January (-13.4%) and February (-2.7%), then annihilated by COVID-19 in March (-72.2%), April (-88.8%) and May (-50.3%), before being propped back up by finely tuned government stimulus to stage a sudden and spectacular resurgence in June (+1.2%), even though the two additional opening days vs. June 2019 hide a “true” -8.4% drop in daily sales. As a result, H1 sales remain in dire straits at -38.6% to 715.804 units which is the worst First Half volume in France in over half a century – since the 771.871 units sold in 1969 at a time when the Peugeot 204 dominated the sales charts. Given only 40.000 of the 200.000 vehicles covered by the new green incentives were sold in June, we can assume that the market stabilisation has the potential to last at least a few more months. As a result we have adjusted our France 2020 forecast from 1.59m (-28%) to 1.75m (-21%), which would still be the lowest annual volume since 1997 (1.71m).

Tesla is the only carmaker in positive in H1 but sales have petered out in June.

The sales distribution by fuel shows a very contrasted picture. Petrol sales (-47.1%) remain dominant even though the fall a lot faster than the market at 362.977 units and 50.7% share vs. 58.8% over H1 2019. Diesel sales (-44.2%) comparatively lose less ground which is a surprise at 222.994 units and 31.2% share vs. 34.3%. Electrified sales rack up the rest of the market, up a smashing 59.3% to 125.704 units and a record 17.6% share vs. just 6.8% a year ago thanks to stricter emissions rules at the start of the year and green incentives from June 1 onwards. These include 60.556 HEV up 21.1% to 8.5% share vs. 4.3%, 44.969 EV up 114.1% to 6.3% share vs. 1.8% and 20.179 PHEV up 155.3% to 2.8% share vs. 0.7%. Distribution channels show private sales at 46.5% share, company sales at 24.9% and tactical sales at 27.9%.

A discounted Clio V pips out the 208 II for just 21 units.

As we described in the June update, Renault (-33.9%) reclaims the brands top spot thanks to its traditional backloading of sales and a resurgence of demo sales towards the end of the month while Peugeot (-37.4%) almost exactly matches the market to progress to 17.9% share. Thanks to large June volumes, Renault also climbs to #1 in the company sales channels but by a whisker: 25.3% share vs. 25%. Below Citroen (-42%) down to 10.3% share, Dacia (-46.7%) takes advantage of a particularly woeful score by V Volkswagen (-48%) to reclaims the 4th place it held over the Full Year 2018. At #6, Toyota (-23%) is the best performer in the Top 10 thanks to a very strong start of the year as its hybrid-heavy lineup was unaffected by new, stricter emission rules. BMW (-28.7%) and Mercedes (-35.7%) also vastly outperform the market and each gain two spots on their H1 2019 ranking to #10 and #8 respectively. Opel (-50.4%) is hit the hardest in the Top 10. Below, DS (-16%), Hyundai (-23.4%), Kia (-29.5%), Mini (-29.5%) and Skoda (-31.1%) resist best inside the Top 20 contrary to Fiat (-59%) and Suzuki (-46.6%), the latter despite a fantastic June score (+55.1%). Further down, Tesla (+5.4%) takes advantage of an online distribution network that somewhat bypassed the lockdown but June sales are dreadful (-49.4%), with Porsche (-5.2%) also very solid.

The Peugeot 2008 II lands at #4.

Model-wise, thanks to heavy discounts of up to 27% in June the Renault Clio V (+303.8%) edges past the Peugeot 208, which offered no discounts, for just 21 units over the period, both models holding 5.4% share. H2 will be decisive therefore, with the new Clio Hybrid fighting the incentive-rich e-208. The Citroen C3 (-42.7%) holds onto the last spot on the podium but is under pressure from the Peugeot 2008 II and Renault Captur II, both breaking their ranking records over the period while the Dacia Sandero (-41.4%) skids down but gains one spot year-on-year to #5. The Peugeot 3008 (-49%), potentially affected by the 2008 II, is the worst performer in the Top 10 and freefalls from #4 to #7. Just below the Renault Twingo (-21.2%) up 3 spots to #8, the Renault Zoe brilliantly gains 25 spots to break into the Top 10 at #9 and is one of the stars of the period, first helped to a record #3 overall in January by stricter emissions rules favouring EV, then to #7 in March in the midst of the pandemic and #8 in June by post-pandemic green incentives that spectacularly reduce its price to as low as 13.000€.

The Renault Captur II lands at #6, peaking at #2 in June.

The Toyota Yaris (-26.4%) soars 4 spots to also break into the H1 2020 Top 10, one of only 4 foreigners in the Top 23 alongside the Opel Corsa (-36.2%) at #16, the VW Polo (-53.4%) at #17 and the Ford Fiesta (-41.9%) at #21. Similarly to the 3008, the Peugeot 308 (-49.5%) falls off a cliff from #8 to #11 while the Citroen C5 Aircross (-30%) and Peugeot 5008 (-34.3%) keep their loss below the market level. The Toyota Corolla (+108.9%) takes advantage of the new model to climb 52 spots to #28, with the DS 3 Crossback (+85.2%), Nissan Juke (+51.6%), VW T-Cross (+44.5%), BMW 1 Series (+23.7%), Tesla Model 3 (+10.5%) and Hyundai Kona (+10.1%) the only additional gainers in the Top 60. Besides the 208 II (#2), 2008 II (#4) and Captur II (#6), the only new launches making it into the French Top 100 over the period are the Ford Puma (#40), Skoda Kamiq (#80) and Mazda CX-30 (#98).

The Renault Master is the #1 LCV in France so far in 2020.

The French Light Commercial Vehicle market remains the largest in Europe over the First Half of 2020 despite a -31.2% year-on-year drop to 175.170 units, a more contained loss than Passenger Cars. Note a highly taxed French Passenger Car (such as a large 4WD for example) can be purchased with significantly reduced tax if registered under a business name, which is one of the main reasons this segment is so strong in France and also why brands like Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Maserati appear in the ranking despite offering no LCV. Brand leader Renault (-30.7%) almost exactly matches the market tho a stable 31.3% share, distancing Peugeot (-32%) and Citroen (-35.2%) underperforming while just below Fiat (-27.7%), Ford (-26.1%) and Mercedes (-29.3%) gain share. Opel (-2.9%) is by far the best performer in the Top 10 and climbs up to #9 overall. Model-wise, the Renault Master (-8.7%) is boosted by a new generation and overtakes the Renault Kangoo (-41.9%) which if confirmed over the FY2020 would end 22 consecutive years of Kangoo domination. The Fiat Ducato (-20.4%) leaps up to #3, dislodging the Renault Trafic (-32.1%) from the podium while the Citroen Berlingo II (-12.2%) overtakes the Peugeot Partner (-27.6%) and Expert (-37.4%).

Previous post: France June 2020: Government stimulus sparks spectacular recovery (+1.2%) to 2nd highest June volume in history

One year ago: France First Half 2020: Citroen (+11.4%), Mercedes (+7.5%) strong in market down -1.8%

Full H1 2020 Top 54 All-brands, Top 375 All-models, Top 58 All LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models below.

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