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France November 2014: Worst November score in 40 years

Second incursion inside the Top 20 for the Citroen C4 Cactus – but the sky is grey in France.

* See the Top 60 best-selling models and Top 18 brands by clicking on the title *

No sign of improvement for the French new car market: down 2% year-on-year in November to just 135.070 registrations, which in itself is not such a worrying decline, except for two things: according to my records, this is the worst November tally in France since 1974 (110.106 registrations) and just below 1996 (135.090). Secondly, the engine that keeps French new car sales afloat is – and that is the most worrying aspect – tactical sales. Short term rentals are up 18% and demo sales to dealerships are up 17%, in effect lifting the market up completely artificially, while private sales are down a horrid 9% or 7,000 units year-on-year and company sales are stable, as French consumers delay whatever big item purchase they can in the wait for better economic times. The 2014 total in France should not grow by more than 1% on 2013 to around 1.815 million units, the third weakest total in the past 20 years below 1997 (1.713.030) and 2013 (1.790.473) and the 5th worst in the past 30 years (add 1993 at 1.721.222 and 1985 at 1.766.328).

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

This comes just as the French government made another nonsensical announcement, saying it wants to gradually phase out the use of diesel fuel for private passenger transport (keeping in mind 80% of French motorists drive diesel-powered cars). Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the government will launch a car identification system that will rank vehicles by the amount of pollution they emit, making it possible for local authorities to limit city access for the dirtiest cars. The latter is good, but does not connect to the former. Anyone even remotely interested in cars will know this, it’s not what goes in that counts in terms of pollution, it’s what comes out. Diesel does not equal dirty anymore, as stringent European emissions standards have already forced French manufacturers to design low-emission diesel engines that pollute less than most petrol engines. Targeting diesel will handicap French manufacturers in one of the only areas they are really good at, and will force French drivers onto less fuel-efficient petrol vehicles… (if the government think French consumers will flock to buy electric cars as a result of this measure it is sorely mistaken) So on behalf of French carmakers and drivers, thank you for nothing Michel Valls!

DS sales are down a worrying 22% in France, just as it becomes a full-blown brand.

Brand-wise, Renault leads but is two full percentage points below its YTD market share at 17.4% vs. 19.6%, with Peugeot just below at 16.9% vs. 17.1% YTD. Citroen is hit hard at -16% to 12% share, its lowest so far this year. It will get worse, as the DS series, a full-blown brand since June this year, will be counted separately in official rankings from next January onwards. Isolated, DS is down a harsh 22% to 2,055 sales and 1.5% share – equivalent to a #15 ranking and leaving Citroen with just 10.5% share, low enough to start feeling Volkswagen’s breath on its neck (8.5% in November). Dacia pauses at only +2% this month (+18% YOY) but the growth should resume once the Lodgy and Dokker Stepway kick in. Toyota is up two spots on October to rank #6 and #2 foreigner below Volkswagen, Nissan is up 29% due solely to demo sales up 3-fold while private sales are down 1%, Opel up 14%, BMW up 31%, Mercedes up 25% and Seat up 17%.

The Peugeot 208 is #1 with private buyers in France this month.

The Renault Clio IV retains its crown this month but drops 5% YOY to 7,063 sales and 5.2% while the Peugeot 208 is up 1% to 6,442 and 4.8% and, most importantly, tops the overall private sales charts, outselling both the Clio IV and Dacia Sandero. The Peugeot 308 is up a mammoth 78% YOY thanks to the new generation and its station wagon variant to climb back on the French podium for the third time in the past 7 months at #3 with 5,649 sales and 4.2%, this generation’s best market share so far and the 308 nameplate’s best since June 2009. The Renault Captur is back up two spots on October to reclaim the small SUV lead over the Peugeot 2008 with 4,481 sales vs. 3,851 while the Dacia Duster is up 4 to #8, its best ranking since last April. The VW Polo (#7) and Golf VII (#13) are the only two foreign models inside the French Top 15 this month (12 in the Top 30).

Mercedes sales are up 25% this month in France.

Further down, the Renault Twingo III is up 6 ranks on last month to #14, the Citroen C4 Cactus breaks into the Top 20 at home for the 2nd time after last July, the Opel Mokka is up 3 spots to a record #21, the brand’s best-seller by far, the VW Tiguan is up 6 to #22, the Audi A3 up a further two to #24, the Peugeot 108 down two to #25 and Citroen C1 II up 4 to #26. The Mini III is stable at an excellent 32nd place vs. #60 year-to-date, the Ford Kuga is up 5 to #36 vs. #54, the Mercedes C-Class up 8 to #37 vs. #59 and the VW Golf Sportsvan is solid at #41 vs. #87 YTD.

Previous post: France 1-19 November 2014: Peugeot 308 keeps Clio at bay

Previous month: France October 2014: Peugeot places 3 models in Top 5

One year ago: France November 2013: Peugeot 2008 confirms #4 spot above Renault Captur

Full November 2014 Top 18 brands and Top 60 models Ranking Tables below.

Full November 2014 Top 12 LCV brands and Top 80 LCV models Ranking Tables below.

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