2020 (Q1) France: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Peugeot replaced Renault as the best-selling car brand in France in the first quarter of 2020 while the Peugeot 208 was the top-selling model ahead of the Renault Clio.

The Peugeot 208 was the top-selling car model in France during the first three months of 2020. It was the first time in years that the Renault Clio was not the favorite car model of the French in Q1.

From the beginning of 2020, the French new car market was weaker but it completely collapsed during March 2020. The PSA Group remained by far the largest car manufacturer in France followed by Renault and the Volkswagen Group. However, Peugeot outsold Renault to become the largest car brand in France during the first three months of 2020 while Toyota outsold Volkswagen to take third place. The Peugeot 208 became France’s favorite car model by outselling the Renault Clio every month thus far in 2020. The Toyota Yaris was the best-selling foreign car in France in Q1/2020.

Latest French Car Sales Statistics — 2023: Market Overview, Brands, Models; 2022, 2021, 2020.

New Car Market in France in 2020 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in France during the first quarter of 2020 were down 34.1% to 364,679 cars, or 188,656 fewer cars than during the first three months of 2019.

The French new car market was 14% weaker in January 2020 and only 3% weaker in February. However, in March 2020 when the Coronavirus hit the market, car sales collapsed by 72%. March is traditionally the second-most-important month of the year for car sales in France. This total collapse in the whole market means that not much should be read from the changes in relative positions of the respective brands.

During Q1/2020, petrol remained the top energy source for new cars with a 48.7% market share (down 10%) while the share of diesels was down a percentage point from a year ago at 33.2%. The share of hybrids doubled to 11%.

During the first quarter of 2020, electric car sales in France increased to 25,914 cars or a market share of 7.1% compared to 10,552 cars and 1.9% during the first three months of 2019. The battery-electric-only Renault Zoe was the sixth best-selling car model in France thus far in 2020.

Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in France in 2020 (Q1)

The largest carmakers in France during the first three months of 2020 according to the CCFA were:

BrandQ1/2020Q1/2019% 19/20
Total Market364,679553,335-34.1
French Manufacturers215,200324,913-33.8
PSA Group131,300186,355-29.5
Citroen39,75961,226-35.1
DS7,3055,43734.4
Peugeot72,95398,697-26.1
Opel11,31320,995-46.1
RENAULT Group83,847138,528-39.5
Renault67,208102,065-34.2
Dacia16,57835,616-53.5
Foreign Brands149,479228,422-34.6
BMW Group14,55519,023-23.5
BMW10,21912,211-16.3
Mini4,3296,810-36.4
DAIMLER Group9,24417,316-46.6
Mercedes Benz8,99415,290-41.2
Smart2502,026-87.7
FCA Group9,76221,164-53.9
Alfa Romeo360906-60.3
Fiat8,54117,771-51.9
Jeep8532,400-64.5
FORD Group10,72221,873-51.0
HYUNDAI Group16,87620,720-18.6
Hyundai8,2949,602-13.6
Kia8,58211,118-22.8
NISSAN Group8,85611,312-21.7
TOYOTA Group23,23025,865-10.2
Lexus1,3441,438-6.5
Toyota21,88624,427-10.4
VW Group41,40866,360-37.5
Audi9,05612,633-28.3
Porsche98965451.2
Seat5,8287,896-26.2
Skoda5,8438,006-27.0
Volkswagen19,66237,103-47.0
VOLVO Group3,1055,466-43.2
TATA Group1,6532,450-32.5
Jaguar428818-47.7
Land Rover1,2251,632-24.9
Souce: CCFA
Figues exclude smaller brands

Top-Selling Carmakers in France in 2020 (Q1)

It was red figures all round for carmakers in France during the first quarter of 2020. The total collapse in the French new car market in March 2020 due to enforced closures caused by the Coronavirus means that not too much should be read into the changes in relative positions of the respective carmakers.

The PSA Group remained by far the largest car manufacturer in France and gained market share from second-placed Renault that underperformed the broader market. The Volkswagen Group was again the largest foreign carmaker in France but lost market share.

The Toyota Group was the best-performing car group in France with sales down by only a tenth. The Hyundai Group also gained market share while Nissan sales were down by only fifth, after slipping by more than a third at the start of 2019.

The FCA Group had another dismal quarter in France while Ford sales were down by more than half. The Daimler Group also struggled with Smart still failing to provide cars to the market.

Of all the top car brands in France, only DS and Porsche had positive numbers during the first quarter of 2020. However, for both growth this year is mostly due to their dismal performance in early 2019.

Best-Selling Car Brands in France in 2020 (Q1)

The top 20 top-selling car brands in France during the first quarter of 2020 were as follows:

BrandQ1/2020Q1/2019Q1/2018
1Peugeot72,95398,697103,054
2Renault67,208102,065106,694
3Citroen39,75961,22655,512
4Toyota21,88624,42724,065
5Volkswagen19,66237,10334,076
6Dacia16,57835,61633,890
7Opel11,31320,99518,548
8Ford10,72221,87324,517
9BMW10,21912,21114,323
10Audi9,05612,63313,124
11Mercedes Benz8,99415,29014,120
12Nissan8,85611,31217,763
13Kia8,58211,11811,315
14Fiat8,54117,77119,543
15Hyundai8,2949,6028,443
16DS7,3055,4375,340
17Skoda5,8438,0067,163
18Seat5,8287,8967,333
19Mini4,3296,8106,720
20Volvo3,1055,4664,579

There was a change at the top when Peugeot replaced Renault as the largest car brand in France during the first quarter of 2020. Peugeot sales were down by just over a quarter while Renault sales were down by over a third.

Citroën was one of only two top-20 car brands in France to be in the same position this year as a year ago. However, Citroën sales were even sharper down than Renault’s.

Toyota was the best-performing top-ten car brand in France thus far in 2020 with sales down by a tenth. Toyota replaced Volkswagen as the favorite imported car brand of France and the third largest brand overall.

Toyota improved two sales rank positions pushing down both Volkswagen and Dacia that lost nearly half of sales. Opel and Ford switched places with both halving sales.

Both BMW (from 12th) and Audi (from 11th) moved into the top ten with a relatively strong performance compared to Mercedes-Benz that slipped one place to 11th. Fiat dropped from 9th to 14th.

Apart from Citroën, Hyundai was the only top 20 car brand at the same rank position as a year ago. DS was the only brand with stronger volume sales – up 34% and improving from 20th to 16th.

Best-Selling Car Brands in France in 2020 (Q1)

The ten best-selling car models in France during the first three months of 2020 were:

Make & ModelSales Q1/2020Sales Q1/2019Sales Q1/2018Sales Q1/2017
1Peugeot 208 II22,60827,79128,26026,779
2Renault Clio V16,23736,43832,47030,815
3Citroen C3 III12,68821,97620,96616,660
4Peugeot 3008 II12,13419,49222,21916,496
5Peugeot 200810,93716,59218,10219,195
6Renaul Zoe10,1514,2254,0335,191
7Renault Captur9,45320,03318,30417,453
8Peugeot 308 II9,43514,78716,47717,693
9Dacia Sandero9,38517,10016,11916,063
10Renault Twingo III8,43110,56112,79910,518
Source: CCFA

The Peugeot 208 replaced the Renault Clio as the favorite car model of the French during the first quarter of 2020. The 208 outsold the Clio in each month thus far this year to take the top spot away from the Clio for the first time in years. Somewhat ironically, the Renault Clio was the best-selling car model in Europe in February 2020 — replacing the VW Golf for the first time since March 2017.

The Citroën C3 was again the third best-selling car model in France — one of only two top-ten models in the same rank position as a year ago. The Peugeot 3008 improved one position and the Peugeot 2008 two.

The Renault Zoe shot into the top 10 from 33rd, where it was the past two years. The Zoe was by far the best-selling electric car model in France in 2020. The only other battery-electric-only car model in the top 100 was the Tesla Model 3 at 40th place (2534 cars).

Fewer than 100 car sales split the Renault Captur (down from 4th) and Dacia Sandero (down from 6th). In between these two, the Peugeot 308 maintained eighth place from a year ago.

The Renault Twingo reentered the top ten after a year at 12th. The Citroen C3 Aircross dropped from 10th to 11th while the Dacia Duster slipped from 9th to 17th.

The most popular imported car model in France during the first quarter of 2020 was the Toyota Yaris at 12th (8,101 cars). The previous top imported car, the VW Polo slipped from 11th to 18th (4,594 sales).

Latest French Car Sales Statistics — 2023: Market Overview, Brands, Models; 2022, 2021, 2020.