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

Suzuki sales shoot up 55.1% year-on-year and the Swift is up 136.1%.

17/07 update: Now wit final complete Top 290 All-models.

After -89% in April to the weakest monthly volume in 63 years and -50.3% in May to the lowest May score in 52 years, the French new car market manages a swift and spectacular recovery in June with volumes up 1.2% year-on-year to 233.820. Not only is the prospect of a positive market stunning, but the volume in itself ranks among the Top 10 largest in French history (#8) while the all-time record is 292.625 in July 1999, and is the second largest June score ever, below only June 2018 (252.222) and roughly equivalent to June 2017 (230.940) and June 2019 (230.965). It also means France is the largest European market above German for the first time in over 30 years: since January 1990. It’s a perfect storm of a combination of elements simultaneously coming to fruition: June volumes this year benefit from two additional working days vs. 2019 (21 vs. 19) without which the market would be down -8.4% (11.135 daily average sales), albeit with a record 20.000 units sold on Monday 29 June alone. There has also been clear pent-up demand after two full months of strict lockdown (April 13 to May 11) and very attractive discounts by most carmakers eager to clear stock. A report on local weekly Auto Plus in late May shows dealership rebates of up to -41% at Renault, -36% at Volkswagen, -28% at Opel, -21% at Citroen, 18% at Peugeot at -14% at Dacia (which normally never discounts), as well as up to -36% for a Fiat 500, -31% for a Seat Arona and -30% for a Hyundai Kona or Nissan Qashqai, rates that have likely increased even further in June given the lukewarm May sales.

Mercedes is up 43.9% and the CLA up 211.3%.

Perhaps most significantly though, some smartly-announced government stimulus took effect on June 1, mainly targeted towards no/low-emissions vehicles in order to fast-track a green transition in France but spectacular enough to drive traffic into showrooms even if buyers don’t end up benefiting fully from them. 7.000€ or up to 27% of the cost are offered for EVs priced below 45.000€, which favours the Peugeot e-208 and e-2008 for example. This falls to 4.000€ for models costing between 45.000 and 60.000€ (Tesla Model 3) and 0€ above 60.000€. 2.000€ are offered for PHEVs with a minimum of 50km of EV autonomy priced under 45.000€, which favours the upcoming Renault Captur E-Tech and the Citroen C5 Aircross. These green bonuses are capped to 200.000 vehicles to give a sense of urgency to French potential buyers. Also, an existing cash-for-clunkers rebate is increased to 3.000€ for the purchase of a new or used combustion vehicle and to 5.000€ for new or used EVs and enlarged to include the scrapping of more vehicles and access 75% of French taxpayers vs. 50% previously. This means government aids can add up to 12.000€ for the purchase of a new EV, and even up to 19.000€ if you can access the maximum 6.000€ income-based bonus delivered by the Paris municipality for low-earning local residents and the 1.000€ state premium if you live in a designated highly-polluting area of Paris. By combining all these conditions, a new Renault Zoe only costs 13.000€ battery included and could even end up free if purchased used.

BMW gains 42.5% and the 1 Series is up 193.9% year-on-year.

Local press started sprucing a “crazy car sales recovery” as early as June 11, which may have amplified the movement and encouraged more customers to visit showrooms before the 200.000 quota runs out. It turns out roughly 40.000 new vehicles have been sold through the new capped scheme in June which is far below what was originally anticipated. Mission accomplished therefore for the French government which has managed to redynamise its car market while at the same time capping its expenditure. This month private sales surge 22.8% to 112.052 and 52.5% share vs. 43%, company sales (including leases) are stable at 19% share but logically, tactical sales remain depressed at -34% for carmakers self-registrations, -24% for demos and -6% for short-term rentals according to Autoways. A logical consequence of the green bonuses described above, EV sales triple year-on-year (+205.2%) from 4.497 to 13.735 and 5.9% share and PHEV sales are up 5-fold (+442.7%) from 1.348 to 7.316 and 3.1% share. Standard HEV sales for their part are up 108.7% from 9.980 to 20.824 and 8.9%. This means electrified sales as a whole hold a mammoth 18% share at 41.875 sales vs. 6.9% and 15.825 in June 2019.

It would appear Chinese EV startup Aiways has already landed in France.

Renault (+6.4%) promptly returns to its end-of-quarter backloading habits to achieve 23.5% share and reclaims the YTD top spot which we will cover in a separate update. Renault also leads the private sales (+60%) and company (30% share) channels. Peugeot (-5.7%), Citroen (-8.5%) and Volkswagen (-14.1%) disappoint with year-on-year drops while Dacia (+8.1%) perks up to 7.1% share vs. 5.7% so far in 2020 and reclaims the #4 YTD spot off Volkswagen. Mercedes (+43.9%), BMW (+42.5%), Ford (+24.9%) and Toyota (+14.6%) all score spectacular double-digit gains in the remainder of the Top 10, with Suzuki (+55.1%), Lexus (+49.1%), Kia (+28.5%), Mini (+28%), Hyundai (+26%), Skoda (+20.1%), Mitsubishi (+18%) and Volvo (+14.9%) also in outstanding shape further down and Aston Martin (+100%), Bentley (+100%) and Ferrari (+8.3%) standing out among small players. In the naughty corner we find Alpine (-69.6%), Smart (-64.5%), Jaguar (-59.2%), Jeep (-56.6%), Tesla (-43.3%), DS (-39.5%), Alfa Romeo (-38.4%), Fiat (-36.9%) and Land Rover (-26.4%). MG is up to #36 with its new e-ZS, while a mysterious “Various foreign brands” appears in the June charts with 50 sales which we’re assuming is Aiways. The Chinese EV startup has indeed signed a contract with the unique licensee of Hertz in Corsica for 500 U5 rentals just in time for summer holidays.

Ford soars 24.9% and the Focus is up 92.3%.

In the models ranking, the Renault Clio V (+168%) threepeats at #1 with a commanding 2.1 percentage point advantage over the Peugeot 208 down to #3 for the month, which seems counter-intuitive as the e-208 would have benefited from green bonuses in June. The explanation is to be found in discounts: Auto Plus reported up to 27% rebates on the Clio V but none on of the 208 II as of end May. As a result the Clio V edges past the 208 over H1 for just 21 units… The Renault Captur II soars 4 spots on May to #2, a new personal best eclipsing the #3 hit last March and matching the first generation’s ranking record. The Dacia Sandero (+23.5%) is bumped down to #4 despite a vigorous year-on-year uptick while the Peugeot 2008 II remains at #5 just as the Peugeot 3008 (-28.8%) tumbles down to #11.

Lexus deliveries surge 49.1% year-on-year in June.

Propped up by enticing incentives (see above), the Renault Zoe (+225.9%) triples its sales vs. June 2019 and returns inside the Top 10 at #8. The Toyota Yaris (+33.8%) is the #1 foreigner, posting a 2nd consecutive Top 10 finish and 4th in the past 7 months. The Renault Clio IV (-56%) rallies up 12 spots on last month to #12, the VW Polo (-14.6%) is only the 2nd foreigner in the Top 18 at #17, while the Ford Fiesta (+18.7%) and Mercedes A-Class (+46.9%) climb back into the Top 20. Spectacular gainers further down include the Ford Kuga (+309.9%), Mercedes CLA (+211.3%), BMW 1 Series (+193.9%), Suzuki Ignis (+160.7%), Swift (+136%), Nissan Juke (+132.1%), BMW X1 (+107%), Ford Focus (+92.3%), Skoda Octavia (+74.3%), Hyundai Kona (+64.9%), Mercedes B-Class (+59.4%) and Citroen C1 (+54.8%).

Previous month: France May 2020: Market drops -50.3% as lockdown is lifted, weakest May in 52 years

One year ago: France June 2019: Renault Clio V just misses out on first Top 10, Twingo at highest in 8 years in market down -8.4%

Full June 2020 Top 54 All-brands, Top 290 All-models and Top 10 largest monthly volumes in history below.

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