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French sales fall 3% in September

PARIS — Registrations fell by 3 percent in France in September, rebounding after a 20 percent decline in August.

The biggest winners among volume brands were Dacia and Audi, with Nissan also reporting a double-digit gain.

There were 168,290 passenger vehicles registered in the month, according to industry group CCFA, on 22 selling days, compared with 21 selling days in September 2019. Adjusted for that, sales declined by 7.4 percent.

The French market is down by 29 percent through September over the same period in 2019, after nearly three months of coronavirus-related restrictions in March, April and May. Government incentives that began June 1 boosted sales in June and July, but the end of a generous trade-in program at the end of July led to a drop-off in August. 

The September figure represents a return to the historical norm. Over the last 10 years, sales in September have averaged 162,000 vehicles, CCFA said.

Increased incentives for electrified (full-electric and plug-in hybrid) vehicles remain in place until the end of 2020, but the government plans to reduce those in 2021 and 2022, even beyond pre-pandemic levels.

  • Download PDF of French sales in September by automaker and brand here.

Among French brands, Peugeot sales increased by 6.7 percent in September, the only PSA Group brand in positive territory, as PSA as a whole was down 4.3 percent. Citroen sales fell 10 percent; Opel was down 32 percent, with a number of GM-based models pulled from the market at the end of 2019 because of high emissions; DS lost 25 percent. 

Budget brand Dacia led Renault Group with a gain of 35 percent, and Renault brand lost 16 percent. Overall, group sales fell by 5.8 percent.

Among foreign brands, Audi led Volkswagen group with a gain of 40 percent. VW brand was down 7.3 percent, Skoda gained 1.3 percent and Seat lost 3.6 percent, as group sales gained 1.7 percent for the month.

BMW brand sales fell by 14 percent and BMW Group brand Mini lost 18 percent. Mercedes-Benz sales fell by 2.7 percent; sales of the Smart city car fell to just 180 units for the month, as the brand re-orients itself under new Chinese owners Geely.

Ford sales grew by 4.2 percent. Fiat sales fell by 8.7 percent, although two other Fiat Chrysler Automobile brands had good months, although at low, three-digit volumes: Alfa Romeo sales grew 23 percent and Jeep sales were up 25 percent.

Among Asian brands, Nissan led the way with a gain of 13 percent. Toyota sales rose by 5.9 percent. Kia sales grew 3.3 percent and Hyundai lost 5.4 percent.

The percentage of electrified vehicles continued to strongly outpace 2019 levels, with a corresponding decrease in overall emissions to 96.4 grams per kilometer of CO2. That is the lowest level since January, when emissions were 96 g/km as automakers rushed to get electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to market.

Hybrid vehicles made up 13 percent of the market through September, compared with 5.3 percent in 2019. Of that figure, 3.5 percent were plug-in hybrids, compared with just 0.7 percent through September 2019. Battery-electric vehicles made up 6 percent of the market, compared with 1.9 percent through September 2019. 

Dual-fuel liquefied petroleum gas/gasoline models also showed sharp growth, from 2,549 sales in the first nine months of 2019, a 0.2 percent share, to 10,735 sales in the same period this year for a 0.9 percent share, with the introduction of the option on Dacia models. 

Diesel share through nine months is 31 percent, down from 34 percent in 2019, while gasoline models made up 49 percent, a decline from 59 percent in 2019. 

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