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France September 2018: Toyota scores first Top 5 in market down 12.8%

Toyota is up to 5th best-selling brand potentially for the first time in French history.

* Now updated with the Top 40 best-selling brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales *

The French market was one of the most sensitive to pre-WLTP stock clearances in August with sales surging 40% artificially as the necessity of registering non-compliant cars before September 1 was coupled with the price increase of a high number of vehicles due to greater emissions under the new testing. In that context, I was bracing for a much larger drop than the -12.8% in September at 148.752 units which translates into -8.5% in daily rates as there was one less opening day compared to September 2017. This keeps the year-to-date volume up 6.5% to 1.662.684, the 4th highest 9-month tally in French history and the highest in 17 years, since the 1.713.958 reached in 2001 (see table below). Private sales drop just 8.2% year-on-year to reach 50.6% share vs. 48% a year ago just as artificial channels logically retreat:  short-term rentals (-40.4%) and demo sales (-6.7%) amount to 23.9% share vs. 28.2% in August and 27.1% YTD, while fleet sales are at 22.6% share vs. 24.3% due to long-term leases down 24.8%.

The Citroen C3 hits its highest market share since March 2011. Pictures largus.fr

Annual volume records9 months volume records
2.309.130 (1990)1.750.049 (1990)
2.274.307 (1989)1.713.958 (2001)
2.268.671 (2009)1.691.132 (1989)
2.254.732 (2001)1.662.684 (2018)
2.248.100 (2018 predicted)1.661.376 (2011)
2.217.149 (1988)1.632.617 (2002)
2.212.661 (2010)1.621.977 (2010)
2.204.065 (2011)1.613.501 (2009)

Peugeot (+0.7%) snaps the #1 brands ranking at home for the 5th time this year at 19.7% share, enjoying the benefits of a WLTP-compliant lineup just as Renault (-23.5%), down to 18.9% share, is enduring the hangover from a aggressive pre-WLTP push last month. The two brands show even more radically opposed fortunes in the private sales channel with Peugeot up 11.2% to 14.155 or 48.2% share while Renault freefalls 26.1% to 12.954 or 46.1%. Citroen (+4.7%) also manages a solid gain to 10.6% share, its highest since last January, thanks to very strong private sales accounting for 55% of its mix vs. just 38% a year ago. Dacia (+5.5%) is doing even better to cement its #4 YTD spot ahead of Volkswagen and confirming it is the #3 brand with French private buyers thanks to 90.704 sales vs. 80.805 for Citroen.

Peugeot is the best-selling brand at home for the 5th time this year vs. 4 for Renault.

Up to 5th place overall, Toyota (+11.7%) is the best performing carmaker in the Top 12 and the only one sporting a double-digit gain, with very healthy indicators showing private sales up 13% to 68.5% share and demo sales down 22% to just 10.5%. Even if in atypical circumstances, this is the first time Toyota breaks into the French Top 5 brands since at least 2012 and potentially ever. As a reminder Toyota produces the Yaris locally in Valenciennes. Ranking-wise, Toyota has benefitted from post-WLTP hangover of Volkswagen (-34.4%) in dire straits even though the German carmaker attempted to pad its freefalling private sales (-46%) down to 41.6% share with a hefty lot of demo sales (+46.2%) reaching 26% of its sales.

The Opel Corsa is the most popular foreign nameplate in France for the first time since May 2011.

Opel (+9.9%) is the other great performer in the Top 10 thanks to – how unusual – an exceptional performance in the private channel at +28% to 59.7% share, well above the market. This frankly contrasts with lukewarm scores in recent times prior to the PSA buyout and aligns with PSA’s almost perfect September scorecard – only DS (-8.4%) is down. Overall in the Top 40, only Lotus (+54.5%), Jaguar (+46.3%), Mitsubishi (+40.7%), Hyundai (+36.4%), Volvo (+29.2%), Ferrari (+11.8%), Mini (+8.4%) and Kia (+5.5%) are in positive but Audi (-55.4%) and Skoda (-20.6%) suffer greatly. The most impacted by post-WLTP hangover are Nissan (-76.6% year-on-year) going from 9.296 sales in August (#6) to 1.458 in September (#21), Alfa Romeo (-75.8%) from 1.404 to 169, Jeep (-44.5%) from 1.573 to 491, Porsche (-69.5%) from 902 to 124, Subaru (-78.1%) from 151 to 16 and Infiniti (-93.9%) from 421 to… 6. Note all percentages are year-on-year vs. September 2017.

Hyundai (+36.4%) is the fastest-growing carmaker in the Top 20 this month.

The Top 2 best-selling nameplates in France weather the storm and stay identical vs. August and YTD: the long-running Renault Clio (-5%) and Peugeot 208 (+6%) evolve like their respective marques but camp on their positions, meaning a 25th consecutive monthly win for the Clio. The Citroen C3 (+38%) finally seems to be taking off, scoring this 3rd generation’s only 2nd podium ranking after May 2017 and highest share to-date at 4.4%. Note this is only the third time in four years the Citroen C3 nameplate ranks on the French podium (add October 2014) and only the fourth time this decade the C3 is at or above 4% share at home alongside March 2011 (4.9%), January 2014 (4.1%), October 2014 (4.1%), January 2018 (4%) and February 2018 (4%). Since 2010, the C3 hit the 2nd place overall twice in March 2011 and December 2013.

First-ever monthly Top 20 ranking for the Mercedes A-Class in France.

Peugeot completes the Top 5 with the 3008 (+15%) up two spots on August to #4 and the 2008 (-1%) up five to #5. The Citroen C3 Aircross (+71%) scores its third-ever Top 10 after January (#10) and July (#9), the Opel Corsa (+72%) snaps its first #1 foreigner crown since May 2011 at #12, also its highest ranking since May 2011 (#9), followed by the Toyota Yaris (+26%) at #13 and now #1 foreigner YTD, the Fiat 500 (+1%) at #15 and the Mercedes A-Class (+55%) at #19, breaking into the French Top 20 for the first time in history (pb #21 in December 2017) and scoring the highest ranking by any Mercedes in France since the Class C in August 2004 (#19). Extremely rare feat – we have no trace in our records of it happening at least since 2004: all Volkswagens are relegated well outside the Top 20: the Polo (-37%) at #23, Golf (-53%) at #27, T-Roc at #29 and Tiguan (-49%) at #34. Outside the Top 50, three recent launches break ranking records: the BMW X2 is up 22 spots on August to #64, the Hyundai Kona is up 42 to #65 and the Volvo XC40 up 37 to #67.

Previous post: France 1-4 October 2018: No improvement yet for Audi (-75%), VW (-50%), Nissan (-47%)

Previous month: France August 2018: Pre-WLTP stock clearance pull market up 40%

One year ago: France September 2017: Best September since 2009 but up a shy 1.1%

Full September 2018 Top 40 brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales below.

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