2021 (Half Year) France: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

In the first half-year of 2021, Stellantis was the largest carmaker in France, but Peugeot replaced Renault as the top-selling brand, and the 208 outsold the Clio as the favorite car model of the French.

In the first half of 2021, the PSA Group remained the largest carmaker in France, but Peugeot replaced Renault as the top-selling brand, and the 208 outsold the Clio.
漏 Peugeot

January to June 2021: the French new car market recovered by nearly 29% compared to the first half of 2020 but was still significantly below recent averages. Stellantis was by far the largest carmaker in France while Peugeot replaced Renault as the best-selling car brand in France. The Peugeot 208 similarly replaced the Renault Clio as the favorite car model of the French.

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

French New Car Market in 2021 (Half Year)

During the first six months of 2021, new passenger vehicle registrations in France increased by a relatively modest 29%. During the first semester of 2021, only 922,766 new passenger cars were registered in France compared to the crisis level of only 715,804 cars during the first half of 2020. The French new car market was still around a quarter of a million vehicles smaller than at the start of 2019 and 2018.

New car sales in France in June 2021 were 15% lower than in June 2020 — this was largely due to the market opening up in June 2020 while in 2021 June much of the economy was still in restrictive measures.

French Car Market by Fuel Type in 2021 (First Half)

The composition of the French new car market by fuel type during the first half of 2020 was as follows:

Engine TypeHY 2020% 2020HY 2021% 2021
Petrol (essence)362,97150.7390,68642.3
–Plug-in Hybrids20,1972.871,7087.8
Source: CCFA

During the first six months of 2020, petrol remained the leading fuel type for new cars sold in France but the market share for purely petrol engines fell to below 50% while less than a quarter of new cars used diesel.

The market share of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in France thus far in 2021 increased from 6.3% to only 7.9% — a relatively weak performance compared to other European new car markets. Hybrid cars more than doubled market share in France with plug-in hybrids almost equaling the share of purely electric cars.

Best-Selling Carmakers and Brands in France in 2021 (First Semester)

The largest car manufacturing groups and top-selling car brands in France during the period January to June 2021 were as follows according to the CCFA:

1-6/2021HY2020% Change 20/21
TOTAL MARCHE922,766715,79828.91
— STELLANTIS318,345252,12826.26
ALFA ROMEO7567540.27
— GROUPE RENAULT215,886187,07615.40
— GROUPE VOLKSWAGEN129,10583,99053.71
— GROUPE B.M.W38,64628,63834.95
ROLLS ROYC67-14.29
— GROUPE TOYOTA56,68142,13434.53
— GROUPE FORD26,87324,5169.61
— GROUPE NISSAN14,72814,5581.17
— GROUPE DAIMLER27,11622,12622.55
— GROUPE HYUNDAI45,24331,43643.92
— GROUPE GEELY9,0426,35742.24
— GROUPE TATA4,2052,72954.09
LAND ROVER3,1672,06253.59
— GROUPE SUZUKI12,7388,10057.26
— GROUPE MITSUBISHI8081,916-57.83
— OTHERS25,26010,094150.25
Source: CCFA

Top-Selling Car Brands in France in 2021 (Half Year)

Stellantis — the combination of the PSA and FCA groups — increased its dominance of the French new car market with a combined market share of 34%. Peugeot brand performed in line with the broader market and replaced Renault as the best-selling car brand in France during the first half of 2021. Of the larger Stellantis brands — the group has more than a dozen — only Fiat outperformed the market while Opel and DS strongly underperformed.

The Renault Group lost market share in France at the start of 2021 with Renault increasing sales by only 4%. In contrast, Dacia with sales up by 55% was one of the top performers in France.

The Volkswagen Group also performed strongly in France during the first half of 2021 with group sales up by half with Audi, Seat, Skoda, and VW all increasing sales by around 50%. However, Bentley and Porsche were two of only four brands with weaker unit sales in France thus far in 2021. (The others were Rolls-Royce and Mitsubishi.)

The BMW Group increased sales in France in 2021 by more than a third with both BMW and Mini brands outperforming the market. Sales of Toyota were similarly up by just over a third.

Ford sales in France in the first half of 2021 increased by only a modest 10% while Nissan sales increased by a dismal 1%. Mercedes-Benz also lost market share despite a strong recovery for low-volume electric-only brand Smart.

Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Suzuki had a strong performance but volume sales far below the larger manufacturers.

Top-Ten Best-Selling Car Models in France in 2021 (Half Year)

The ten best-selling car models in France during the first half of 2021 according to the CCFA were:

ModelSold HY 2021Sold HY 2020
1Peugeot 20848,51538,863
2Renault Clio47,45838,884
3Peugeot 200840,60423,901
4Dacia Sandero39,11522,770
5Citroen C3 III35,94924,431
6Renault Captur32,28122,750
7Peugeot 3008 II31,00120,501
8Toyota Yaris19,99915,404
9Renault Twingo III19,95920,225
10Renault M茅gane IV18,064
Electric-Only Models:
18Tesla Model 313,084
20Renault Zoe10,79717,650
88Volkswagen ID32,508
Source: CCFA

The Peugeot 208 replaced the Renault Clio as the top-selling car model in France during the first half of 2021. During the first half of 2020, the Clio outsold the 208 by only 21 cars but the role has been reversed in 2021 with the 208 around a thousand units ahead. The Clio, seemingly perpetually the second most popular car in Europe behind the Golf, struggled in Europe thus far this year but in May 2021 took its traditional second place again.

Sales of the Peugeot 2008 and Dacia Sandero almost doubled allowing each model to move up one rank position while the Citroen C3 slipped from third to fifth. The Renault Captur and the Peugeot 3008 were the only top-ten models in France in the same rank position as a year ago.

The Toyota Yaris moved up two rank positions to eighth as the most popular imported car model in France during the first half of 2021. The Renault Twingo was the only top model with weaker unit sales than a year ago and slipped one rank position. The Renault Megane was the only new entrant on the top ten list.

The electric-only Renault Zoe dropped out of the list from 9th to 20th. Not only were sales weaker, but the Zoe also was not even the top-selling electric-only model in France with the Tesla Model 3 at 18th the best selling electric-only car model. The VW ID3 made it only to 88th. (From initial statistics it was not possible to determine the electric sales of models such as the Peugeot 208 that are available in both electric and petrol versions.)

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

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.