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France October 2020: Peugeot 208 II widens gap on Renault Clio V in market down -9.5%

The Peugeot 208 is easily swooshing to its first win at home.

New car sales in France endure their 8th year-on-year drop of 2020 in October at -9.5% to 171.049 units, jus as the last registrations under the post-Covid regime are rushed to the end of the month. Another handicapping factor being one less selling day compared to September 2019. Over the first 10 months of 2020, the French new car market is down -26.9% year-on-year to 1.337.747 units. This relatively poor October showing added to a new national lockdown scheduled to last until November 30 at least has led us adjust our 2020 Forecast from 1.71 million units last month to 1.675 million today. Even though the new lockdown – albeit less severe than the first – allows for click and collect online sales, the last two months of the year are going to be extremely difficult for the French new car market. In fact some local analysts predict the freefall will be much more severe in November and December, leading to a FY2020 figure of 1.55 million units, the lowest since 1975 when 1.482.312 new cars were registered.

In this difficult context, local consultancy AAA DATA does see a ray of light: a very clear regain of appetite for used cars, up 11% year-on-year in October with no less than 593.411 units changing hands. That’s a huge 3.5 used-to-new ratio, a ratio that is even stronger among private sales at 7.1. Among sales channels of new cars, private sales dip by a slim -3.5% year-on-year to 83.553 or 48.8% share vs. 45.8% a year ago. Private sales, the most profitable channel for carmakers, remains down -24.5% year-on-year so far in 2020. A silver lining to an atrocious year: the market has been “purifying” itself with much less tactical (aka fake) sales down -56.1% this year. Stringent and unpredictable limitations on vehicle circulation across the continent have meant short-term rentals dive -31.6% and demo sales are off -24.5% year-on-year.

The Renault Zoe remains the best-selling BEV at home, but the Peugeot e-208 is catching up.

Green cars remain on another planet altogether thanks to very generous government rebates that are starting to flatten out, which means the next few months will be fascinating to follows as many more green nameplates hit the French market. As a whole, BEV, PHEV and HEV sales are up 123% to 33.499 units and up 9% on year-on-year. According to AAA Data, over 220.000 clean vehicles (new and used) were registered since January 2020. This could help some manufacturers to get close or even meet the European CO2 target for 2020.

Opel surprises with a 20.1% year-on-year gain.

In the brands ranking, Peugeot (+2.2%) sports a third consecutive win at home with 20.2% share, well above its 18.4% level of September 2019, while Renault (-4.7%) is at 19.3% vs. 19.2%. Year-to-date, Renault (-23.1%) sees its advantage over Peugeot thaw to just under 11.000 units. Given Renault’s new CEO Luca De Meo seems to want to shed the company’s bad habit of relying on tactical sales to achieve volumes, a first annual victory at home for Peugeot is in the realm of possibilities. Below, Citroen (-12.1%), Volkswagen (-11%), Dacia (-23.2%), Ford (-27.2%) and Toyota (-33.1%) are struggling but their market share is sensibly similar to last year’s which was a high mark. Surprise: Opel (+20.2%) scores the best gain in the Top 10 and Trop 15, a breath of fresh air for the German brand now under the PSA umbrella. Audi (+17.9%) scores the only additional gain in the Top 10 while further down Caterham (+450%), Morgan (+200%), Lotus (+80%), Suzuki (+43.3%), Honda (+42.4%), Ferrari (+30.4%), Ssangyong (+23.1%) and Lamborghini (+14.3%) score the largest gains in market, Chinese MG is up to its 2nd best ranking at #31 and the supposedly 200 Aiways U5 Shipped to Corsica to be used as rental by Hertz still haven’t made their first official appearance. There is one rather positive review (in French) to check out here though, so some Aiways U5 did reach the southern island over summer but the million dollar question is how many. Official AAA Data says 2, but such a little amount makes no sense.

Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 II (+141%) easily retains the top spot it also holds YTD, widening the gap with its archenemy the Renault Clio V (+3.8%) to 1.860 in October and 6.610 year-to-date. This means the 208 nameplate is well placed to finish 2020 in the overall lead for the second year in a row as the 208 I topped 2019 charts as both nameplates were trying for a smooth generation changeover. The e-208 accounts for roughly 1 in five 208 sold in France this month, ranking #2 in the BEV segment as we’ll see further down. Renault fans will point at the fact that Renault Clio IV, V and Zoe actually surpass the Peugeot 208 I and II  at 11.651 sales vs 9.845 but at this stage, it’s a matter of how long is a piece of string. The Citroen C3 (-11%) climbs back up 3 spots on last month to land on the October podium with a 4.2% market share, identical to its YTD level. The Peugeot 2008 II (+1828%) and Renault Captur II (+215%) brilliantly round out the Top 5, with the 2008 II holding its spot on the YTD podium well above the Citroen C3. All additional Top 10 nameplates are in negative bar the Renault Twingo (+17.9%) boosted to #7 overall by its new EV option. Below, notice the Nissan Juke (+1155.2%), Mercedes GLA (+121.5%), VW Golf (+69.8%), Renault Kangoo (+64.4%), Suzuki Swift (+61.5%), Opel Crossland X (+61%), Kia Niro (+46.8%), Hyundai Kona (+30.8%), Audi A3 (+33.8%), Fiat Panda (+29.7%), Renault Zoe (+29.3%) and Peugeot 5008 (+20.1%) all scoring fantastic results in the remainder of the Top 50.

The VW ID.3 has well and truly landed in France but is timid for now (#81).

The Ford Puma leads recent launches at #24 (down 6 on September), the VW ID.3 at #81, Mercedes GLB at #94 and the Mazda MX-30 at #142. In the BEV ranking, the Renault Zoe (2.507) remains the best-seller but the Peugeot e-208 is clearly gearing up: from 697 sales in August, to 1.230 in September and 1.988 this month. If the e-2008 outsells the Zoe over the long term in France it would question the choice of creating a separate nameplate for EVs rather than simply launching EV variants of well-known nameplates or entirely new models such as the VW ID.3. In the fleet sales, this time accounting for YTD volumes, the Renault Clio retains the lead above the Peugeot 208 II, 3008 and 308, with the Citroen C3 rounding out the Top 5. Notice also the Renault Megane at #6, the Renault Kadjar #9, Mercedes A-Class at #13, DS 7 Crossback at #14 and BMW X1 at #25. The Renault Zoe stands at an underwhelming 17th place.

Previous month: France September 2020: Peugeot 208 II, 2008 II & Dacia Sandero keep Renault Clio V outside podium, volumes down -3%

One year ago: France October 2019: Market up 8.7%, Peugeot 208 II lands at #12, wreaks havoc: Clio V pulled to #2, Citroen C3 scores first ever pole position

Full September 2020 Top 55 All-brands, Top 288 All-models, Top 50 fleet models and Top 10 BEVs below.

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