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France August 2020: Reality check as market sinks -19.8%, Hyundai (+39.1%), Toyota (+2.4%) shine, 208 II and 2008 II tops again, Clio V down to #5

The Peugeot 2008 II repeats at #2 with 5.5% share, both all-time records.

16/09 update: Now with Top 55 All-brands and Top 340 All-models.

9/09 update: Now with Top 10 EV models.

After showing the entire European continent the way to recovery in June (+1.2%) – and confirming in July (+3.9%) – thanks to precocious and astutely-advertised government incentives, the French new car market falls off a cliff in August at -19.8% year-on-year to just 103.631 units, leading to a year-to-date tally down -32% to 998.409. The generous stimulus initiated in June was scaled back significantly on August 3, having reached the planned 200.000 beneficiaries across new and used car sales by end July, logically triggering a market slump. Low availability still stemming from factory closures earlier in the year, as well as an exceptionally high comparison base in August 2019 due to upcoming regulatory changes forcing carmakers to rush registrations also explain the August slump, but although we did anticipate August would be down, we did not forecast such a freefall. Strikingly, used car sales do continue to surge in August at +17% and 491.315 units after +28% in June and +13% in July. August is always atypical in France, by far the weakest month of the year, as close to the entire country is on holiday, and the very peculiar post-pandemic context means it’s too early to say whether the French market is back in hell. September figures will give a better indication of the country’s overall new car sales health status. The larger-than-expected August fall prompts us to update our France 2020 forecast down from 1.73 million (-22%) last month to 1.69 million (-23.5%).

The Peugeot 208 cements its YTD domination.

Looking at sales by channel, company sales fare best at -4.5% to 25.862 units and 25% share vs. 21% a year ago while private sales also resist well at just -7.2% to 51.581 units, reaching 49.8% share vs. 43% in August 2019. Within private sales, pure purchase accounts for 60% of transactions at 31.146 units vs. 62% a year ago while leases remain strong at 39% share vs. 38% a year ago. Leases with purchase option (LOA – location avec option d’achat) are up 5% year-on-year to 11.595 units and 22% share of private sales vs. 20% a year ago while long-term leases (LLD – location longue durée) are down -9% to 8.838 and 17% share vs. 17.5% in August 2019. Short-term rentals remain depleted at -53% to 4.343. units and demo sales are down -38.9%. If petrol sales crumble -39% to 47.704 and 46% share vs. 60.5% a year ago and diesel is off -22.2% to 30.982 and 29.9% share vs. 30.8%, electrified sales continue to boom: up 118.5% year-on-year to reach 22.7% share vs. just 8.3% a year ago. In the detail, HEV is up 74.7% to 12.653 and 12.2% share vs. 5.6% in August 2019, BEV shoots up 167.2% to 5.590 and 5.4% share vs. 1.6% a year ago and PHEV sales surge 269% to 5.266 and 5.1% share vs. 1.1%. So far in 2020, petrol sales are down -42.3% to 497.642 and 49.8% share vs. 58.8% over the same period in 2019, diesel sales are down -38% to 308.653 and 30.9% share vs. 33.8% and electrified sales gain 90.4% to 216.851 and 21.7% share vs. 7.8%. HEV is up 37.1% to 91.435 and 9.2% share vs. 4.5% in 2019, BEV soars 131.2% to 60.526 and 6.1% share vs. 1.8% and PHEV shoots up 191.4% to 32.445 and 3.2% share vs. 0.7% in 2019.

The Ford Puma smashes its ranking record from #24 to #12 in France.

Peugeot (-3.6%) resists a lot better than its home market to reclaims the brands top spot for the first time since last February, holding a 18.3% share which is in line with its YTD level of 18%. In contrast, Renault (-24.4%) sinks to a paltry 13.7% share (same as July 2019) which is believed to be its lowest this decade and possibly ever at home. Renault’s ghastly result this month illustrates the issues related to having a large portion of its monthly sales allocated to artificial channels such as demo and rentals, which are traditionally at a standstill in August. Peugeot is also the #1 brand with private sales thanks to sales surging +28.2% whereas Renault dives -25%, as well as with company sales (+9.7%). Below, Citroen (-13.4%) is handicapped by atrocious private sales (-31.5%) where it only holds a 7.9% share, which are not compensated by soaring company sales (+21.4%) where it holds 13.8% of the market.

The Opel Corsa scores its first French Top 10 finish in over 9 years.

Dacia (-6.4%) is in solid shape, reaching its highest market in two years (since August 2018) at 7.3%, and shooting up to 12.8% of private sales, historically outselling Renault down to a tiny 10.5%. But the best performer near the top of the brands charts is Toyota (+2.4%), the only year-on-year gainer in the Top 10 and cementing the 5th position its holds year-to-date above Volkswagen (-50.2%) which endures the harshest decline in the entire Top 20 in August. Toyota does even better with private customers where it holds 7.6% of the market, just below Citroen. Ford (-1.8%) and, for once, Opel (-3.7%) also shine with limited falls in the remainder of the Top 10 due to strong private sales: Ford up 2% and Opel up 21.3%. Further down, Hyundai (+39.1%), Kia (+11.9%) and Volvo (+6.2%) sign splendid upticks with BMW (-0.7%) brilliantly stable. Strong private sales scores include Honda (+57.6%), Fiat (+21.9%), Nissan (+21.7%),Mitsubishi (+21.3%), Skoda (+18.5%) and Mini (+1%).

The Toyota C-HR hits a record 15th place in August.

Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 II rises to 6.2% share, earning its 5th monthly win of 2020 and smashing the Renault Clio V (+38.9%) down a further three spots on July to a paltry 5th place, falling below competitors such as the Dacia Sandero (+15.4%) and Citroen C3 (-2.2%). Even when adding sales of the Zoe (+65% but down one spot on last month to #13) and Clio IV (-94.2%), Renault’s small car volumes remain below the 208 II (6.105 vs. 6.403). In second place for the 2nd consecutive month, the Peugeot 2008 II confirms it is now a serious contender for the 2021 pole position, equalling the nameplate’s record ranking and share at 5.5% (also hit last April). The Renault Captur II skids down one spot to #6 above the Opel Corsa (+66.7%) taking full advantage of the new generation to easily become the #1 foreign model in August, scoring its first Top 10 finish in over 9 years: since May 2011.

The Citroen ë-C4 makes its first appearance in French sales charts.

If you consider Opel French as it is now part of the PSA Group, then the #1 foreigner is also a surprise: the Ford Puma, slicing the ranking record it established just last month in two from #24 to #12. The Toyota Corolla (+73.5%) at #14, Toyota C-HR (+38.9%) at #15, Hyundai Kona (+255.8%) at #20 and Kia Niro (+105%) at #27 all also break their ranking record, with the Nissan Juke (+252.7%), BMW 1 Series (+173.6%), Volvo XC40 (+94.4%), Citroen Berlingo (+56.6%), Fiat Panda (+56.5%), Mercedes GLA (+22.1%), BMW X1 (+19.2%), Seat Ibiza (+18.6%), Citroen C5 Aircross (+18.2%) and Mini Hatch also in outstanding shape in the remainder of the Top 50. In August we welcome the Ford Explorer (#184), Citroen ë-C4 (#213) and new C4 (#216).

Previous month: France July 2020: Positive momentum confirmed (+3.9%), Peugeot 208 leads, 2008 hits record 2nd place, outsells Clio

One year ago: France August 2019: Demo sales lift Smart (+479.5%), Suzuki (+130.5%) to record rankings in market down -14%

Full August 2020 Top 55 All-brands, Top 340 All-models and Top 10 EV models below.

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