2021 (Full Year) France: New Car Market Overview and Analysis

In 2021, the new car market in France was flat. Market analysis showed an increase in electric vehicles sales while diesel’s share is down to 21%.

In 2021, the new car market in France was flat. Market analysis showed an increase in electric vehicles sales while diesel's share is down to 21%.
© Stellantis

In full-year 2021, new passenger vehicle registrations in France increased by 0.54% to only 1,659,008 cars — a second crisis year after a very weak 2020. Market analysis of the French new car market showed a continued increase in the popularity of electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles while diesel-engined cars made up only a fifth of the market. The Stellantis Group was the largest carmaker in France and Peugeot was the best-selling brand in 2021. The Peugeot 208 and the Renault Clio were the top-selling car models in France in 2021.

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

Overview of the New Vehicle Market in France in 2021

In 2021, light vehicle registrations in France increased by 1.91% to 2,091,630 (from 2,052,498 in 2020) vehicles according to statistics released by the CCFA. This number includes:

  • 1,659,008 (+0.54%) passenger vehicles (voitures particulières), and
  • 432,622 (+7.52%) light commercial vehicles (vehicules utilitaires legers / less than 5.1 t).

Heavy commercial vehicles (vehicules industriels / 5.1 t plus) sales increased by 6.7% to 44,149 (41,722 in 2020) vehicles.

With the exception of March, April, and May, car sales in France in 2021 were below 2020 sales every month of the year. Although Covid restrictive measures were in place at times in 2021, the effect was less severe than in 2020. The major drag on the new car market in France in 2021 was the global shortage in computer chips and other components that severely restricted production.

Passenger Car Sales in France by Year (2009 to 2021)

Although the French new car market expanded in 2021, it was another weak year after the sharp contraction in full-year 2020 that 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
20211,659,0080.54
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 2021: Market Analysis

New passenger vehicle registrations in France in 2021 were flat with the 0.54% growth adding fewer than 9,000 cars to the market. The market remained a quarter smaller than before the Covid pandemic.

Since 2009, the French car market segmentation changed with SUVs taking a 45% share in 2021 compared to 6% while vans (monospace) popularity fell from 17% to 1.8%, and breaks (station wagons) from 8% to only 3%.

French brands struggled more than foreign brands in France in 2021 but the losses were widely shared. Stellantis and the Renault Group each lost around 4% in sales while the Volkswagen and Toyota Groups gained market share.

See also: 2021 (Full Year) France: Best-Selling Car Brands and the Top 30 Best-Selling Car Models in France .

Fuel Types of New Cars in France in 2021

Car sales by main types of energy in France in 2021 were as follows:

Fuel Type2021% Share2020% Share
Petrol667,50340,2774,38346,9
Diesel349,48221,1504,17830,6
Hybrids427,53725,8243,67614,8
of which plug-in141,0128,574,5924,5
Battery Electric162,1069,8110,9166,7
Bicarburation :essence + GPL + GNV49,7823,016,6411,0
Superethanol2,4240,130,0

Although battery-electric vehicles continued to increase market share in France in 2021, the growth was less spectacular than the tripling in share in 2020. In December 2009, only 10 electric vehicles were registered in France while battery-electric cars took a 15% market share in December 2021.

The decline in diesel sales in France continued in 2021 with market share down to just more than a fifth — almost half of what it was as recent as 2018. Hybrids were more popular and took just over a quarter of the market.

In 2021, the Stellantis Group was by far the largest carmaker in France and Peugeot outsold Renault to become the best-selling car brand. The Peugeot 208 was the top-selling car model in France in 2021 and the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling battery-electric car.

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