2020 (Full Year) France: New Car Market Overview and Analysis

In 2020, the new car market in France contracted by a quarter. Market analysis showed a huge increase in the popularity of electric vehicles.

Peugeot E-Legend Geneva Auto Salon 2019

In 2020, the new car market in France contracted by a quarter. Market analysis showed a huge increase in the popularity of electric vehicles.

In full-year 2020, new passenger vehicle registrations in France contracted by 25.2% to only 1,650,082 cars. Market analysis of the French new car market showed a large increase in the popularity of electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Both regular petrol and diesel-engined cars lost market share. The PSA Group remained the largest carmaker in France and Renault the best-selling brand in 2020. The Peugeot 208 and the Renault Clio were the top-selling car models in France in 2020.

Latest French Car Sales Statistics — 2022: Market Overview, Brands, Models; 2021: Market, Brands, Models; 2020: Market, Brands, Models.

Overview of the New Vehicle Market in France in 2020

In 2020, light vehicle registrations in France contracted by 23.8% to 2,052,498 vehicles according to statistics released by the CCFA. This number includes:

  • 1,650,082 (-25.5%) passenger vehicles (voitures particulières), and
  • 402,375 (-16.1%) light commercial vehicles (vehicules utilitaires legers / less than 5.1 t).

Heavy commercial vehicles (vehicules industriels / 5.1 t plus) sales decreased by 24.5% to 41,722 vehicles.

Most of the car sales in France were lost during March, April, and May 2020 when the first lockdown phase left businesses and the public unprepared for the challenges presented by the coronavirus. Although the French new car market was weaker most months of 2020, the contraction was significantly less severe during the second lockdown phase at the end of the year. French car sales were down less than 12% in December 2020.

Passenger Car Sales in France by Year (2009 to 2020)

The sharp contraction in full-year 2020 brought to an end six years of expansion of the French new passenger car market. In the preceding four years, the French new car market exceeded two million sales per year.

New passenger vehicle registrations in France were as follows in the full calendar years since 2009:

YearSales% Change
20201,650,082-25.5
20192,214,2791.9
20182,173,4813
20172,110,7514.7
20162,015,1865.1
20151,917,2306.8
20141,795,9130.3
20131,790,473-5.7
20121,898,872-13.9
20112,204,229-2.1
20102,251,6692.2
20092,302,398
Source: CCFA

France New Car Sales in 2020: Market Analysis

New passenger vehicle registrations in France in 2020 were just over a quarter lower than in 2019. The contraction in new car sales was broadly shared by all manufacturers with domestic brands (-25%) only marginally outperforming the broader new car market (-25.5%) and foreign brands (-26.1%).

Of the larger car brands, Peugeot gained market share with sales down 20.5% while Renault also slightly outperformed the market with sales lower by 22.7%

Electric Cars Gained Market Share in France in 2020

Car sales by main types of energy in France in 2020 were as follows:

Engine2020%2019%2018%
Petrol (essence)774,36346.91,281,80257.91,188,17054.7
Diesel504,19130.6755,57934.1844,83038.9
Hybrids243,65114.8125,4325.7106,3694.9
–Plug-in Hybrids74,5874.518,5920.8
Electric110,9126.742,7641.931,0591.4
Source: CCFA

In 2020, electric cars more than tripled market share in France from less than 2% to 6.7%. Plug-in hybrid cars also strongly increased sales in France. Both petrol and diesel lost market share in France, although most hybrid cars also run on fuel and it is debatable how much any plug-ins ever run on electric power.

In 2020, the PSA Group remained the largest carmaker in France but Renault was again the best-selling car brand. The Peugeot 208 (or maybe the Renault Clio) was the top-selling car model in France in 2020 and the Renault Zoe the best-selling battery-electric car.

Latest French Car Sales Statistics — 2022: Market Overview, Brands, Models; 2021: Market, Brands, Models; 2020: Market, Brands, Models.