2016 (Q1) France: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Peugeot Fractal shown at the Geneva Auto Salon 2016The PSA Group was the strongest carmaker in France during the first quarter of 2016 with Renault the best-selling brand and the Clio the top-selling model. New passenger vehicle registrations in France increased by 8.2% during the first three months of 2016 to just over half a million sales. Electric car sales doubled and took a just over one percent share of the French new car market. Volkswagen remained the top-selling foreign carmaker and brand with the VW Polo the favorite foreign car of the French.

The French New Car Market in 2016 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in France increased by 8.2% to 516,392 cars during the first three months of 2016. French car manufacturers slightly underperformed the market with a 7% increase in sales to 280,416 cars and a market share of 54.3%. Car sales of foreign car brands in France increased by 10% to 235,976 cars.

Electric car sales in France more than doubled during the first three months of 2016 to 6,022 cars or a market share of 1.17% compared to 2,903 (0.61%) in 2015. The Renault ZOE sold 3,287 cars – the 40th most-popular car model in France thus far in 2016.

Hybrid car sales increased to 16,922 cars for a market share of 3.28%. These figures include 2,095 plug-in hybrids.

Diesel remained the first choice of new car buyers in France although the market share of new diesel cars slipped to 52.2% during the first quarter of 2016 compared to 58.8% in the first quarter of 2015. Petrol cars increase market share from 37.4% a year ago to 43.3% during the period January to March 2016.

Top-Selling Car Manufacturers in France in 2016 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registration data released by the CCFA showed the following as the top-selling car manufacturers and marques in France during January, February and March 2016:

Q1/2016Q1/2015% Change
Total Market516,392477,3268.2
PSA Group148,838141,4145.2
RENAULT Group131,319120,7368.8
VW Group64,77658,3618.7
FORD Group22,38422,1101.2
TOYOTA Group21,26819,6028.5
BMW Group20,79717,21320.8
NISSAN Group20,28520,337-0.3
FCA Group19,88117,81611.6
-Alfa Romeo1,7201,53212.3
GM Group19,37815,97821.3
HYUNDAI Group14,44913,4447.5
MERCEDES Group14,31213,9972.3
VOLVO Group4,0803,22026.7

Souce: CCFA / Figures exclude “others” & manufacturers selling fewer than 4,000 cars

Best-Selling Car Brands in France in 2016 (Q1)

There were only minor rank order changes amongst the top-selling car manufacturing groups and brands in France during the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year ago. Although the French brands mostly underperformed the broader market, only four major import brands – Porsche, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan – actually had weaker sales than a year ago.

The PSA Group remained the largest carmaker in France at the start of 2016 but although Peugeot and Citroen both increased sales, only the small DS brand gained market share.

Renault was again the best-selling car brand in France during the first quarter of 2016 but slightly underperformed the market while its budget brand Dacia had strong sales.

The VW Group was again the largest importer of cars into France in 2016. The Volkswagen Group’s market average performance was largely due to a very strong performance by Audi. Skoda, which swapper positions with Seat, was the second most-improved car brand in France. Sales of Volkswagen branded cars were flat – although the VW Polo continued to sell well in France. Porsche was the worst performer of any major car brand in France during the first three months of 2016.

Ford sales were flat but Ford remained the fifth largest car brand in France.

Nissan Group sales were down 0.3% with the Nissan brand down 1.3%. Nissan was thus outperformed this year by both Toyota and BMW. Both BMW and Mini sales were sharply up in France at the start of 2016.

Sales of the FCA Group were sharply up in France with all three surviving brands – Fiat, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo – registering double-digit increases.

The GM Group – now down to basically just Opel – was the most-improved manufacturer in France during the first quarter of 2016. Sales of Opel cars were up by more than a fifth.

The Hyundai Group overtook the Mercedes Group with both manufacturers underperforming the broader French new car market. Kia sales were up strongly but Hyundai sales were in the red. Mercedes-Benz similarly had weaker sales – in contrast to competitors Audi and BMW – while Smart was the most-improved brand with sales up by more than a third.

Sales of the Volvo Group were up by a quarter.

Top-Selling Car Models in France in 2016 (Q1)

The ten best-selling car models in France during the first three months of 2016 according to the CCFA were:

Q1/2016Make & ModelSales Q1/2016% Market ShareSales Q1/2015
1Renault Clio IV28,3315.528,644
2Peugeot 20826,7615.222,491
3Peugeot 308 II20,8654.018,922
4Renault Captur19,1393.719,754
5Peugeot 200816,8363.316,345
6Citroen C3 II15,7873.114,548
7Dacia Sandero14,0032.710,990
8Volkswagen Polo11,1702.210,483
9Citroen C4 II Picasso11,1062.211,094
10Renault Twingo III10,7192.113,283

Top Ten Best-Selling Car Models in France in 2016 (Q1)

The Renault Clio remained the favorite car model of the French during the first quarter of 2016 although sales were slightly down from a year ago. In contrast, sales of the Peugeot 208 were up by 4,000 units from a year ago. The 208 gained the half a percentage market share lost by the Clio.

The Peugeot 308 became the third best-selling car in France during the first three months of 2016 with stronger sales while the Renault Captur slipped a position with slightly weaker sales.

The Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 maintained fifth and sixth place with the Citroen gaining some market share.

The Dacia Sandero re-entered the top-ten list of best-selling cars in France at position seven with sales up by 3,000 cars. Last year the Sandero was at 11th but it was a high as sixth in 2014.

The Volkswagen Polo remained the top-selling imported car in France during the first three months of 2016. The Polo improved from 12th place at the start of 2015.

The Citroen C4 Picasso improved one position despite selling only 12 more cars than a year ago. The Renault Twingo III slipped from seventh to tenth with weaker sales – the model is clearly not as fresh as it was a year ago.

The Renault Mégane and Scénic slipped out of the top ten list. Both cars are affected by model changes: the new Scenic IV was announced at the Geneva Auto Salon in March 2016 while the combined sales of the Mégane III and IV would have placed the car at eighth place for the first three months of 2016 – expect both fourth generation models to feature strongly amongst the top sellers later in 2016.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.