2021 (Q1): The French new car market expanded by 21% with Peugeot the best-selling car brand in France and the Peugeot 208 the top-selling model.
During the first quarter of 2021, new passenger vehicle registrations in France increased by 21% but the total French new car market was still a fifth smaller than during the first three months of 2019 and 2018. Peugeot remained the best-selling car brand in France with the new Stellantis Group the top car manufacturer. The Peugeot 208 was again the favorite car model of the French followed by the Renault Clio. The Dacia Sandero made the most gains. The Toyota Yaris was the best-selling foreign car model while the Tesla Model 3 the top-selling battery-only electric car model in France thus far in 2021.
New Car Market in France in 2021 (Q1)
New passenger vehicle registrations in France during the first quarter of 2021 were 21.1% higher than during the first quarter of 2020. During the first three months of 2021, the French new car market expanded to 441,791 cars but this was still a fifth lower than during the first quarters of 2019 and 2018 when around 550,000 cars were registered.
The French new car market was weaker during the first two months of 2021 but in March 2021, new car sales in France were 190% higher than during March 2020, when the first lockdowns were introduced. The lowest sales in France in 2020 were in April and although the country is entering another period of lockdowns at the start of April 2021, the effect on the car market is not expected to be as severe as during April 2020.
During Q1/2021, petrol remained the top energy source for new cars with a 43.5% share (48.7% in Q1/2020) while the share of diesel cars was down to 24.4% compared to 33.2% a year ago. As recently as 2016, more than half of all new cars sold in France were diesel. The share of hybrids more than doubled to 13%, including a 7.1% market share for plug-in hybrids.
During the first quarter of 2021, electric car sales in France increased to 30,439 cars (25,914 in 2020) or a market share of 6.9% (7.1% in 2020 but only 1.9% during the first three months of 2019).
Best-Selling Car Manufacturers in France in 2021 (Q1)
The largest carmakers in France during the first three months of 2021 according to the CCFA were:
|– Mercedes Benz||12,686||41.0||8,994||15,290|
Top-Selling Car Brands in France in 2021 (Q1)
The Stellantis Group was the top carmaker in France during the first quarter of 2021 but the addition of the FCA brands added little to the overall numbers of the former PSA Group. With the exception of Jeep, all brands underperformed the broader market while Opel and DS sales were lower than a year ago. The only other major car brand with lower volume sales in France thus far this year was Lexus. Jeep was the most improved brand but the actual numbers are small.
The Renault Group and brand was again in second place but Renault bled market share with flat sales. In contrast, Dacia sales improved strongly — only Jeep and Suzuki performed stronger but with much smaller numbers. Dacia improved from sixth-largest brand a year ago to fourth this year.
The Volkswagen Group was the top foreign manufacturing although the new Stellantis Group is too multinational to be considered French any longer. All the large Volkswagen brands gained market share with VW again the fifth largest car brand in France.
Toyota slipped from fourth largest to sixth largest car brand in France during the first three months of 2021. However, the Toyota Yaris remained the top-selling imported car model in France thus far in 2021.
Foreign brands generally performed well with Ford and Mercedes-Benz sales up by around 40%, Volvo up by a third, Hyundai and Kia sales up by a quarter, and BMW sales up by a fifth.
Best-Selling Car Models in France in 2021 (Q1)
The ten best-selling car models in France during the first three months of 2021 were:
|Make & Model||Sales Q1/2021||Sales Q1/2020||Sales Q1/2019||Sales Q1/2018|
|1||Peugeot 208 II||25,998||22,608||27,791||28,260|
|2||Renault Clio V||21,236||16,237||36,438||32,470|
|4||Citroen C3 III||18,994||12,688||21,976||20,966|
|7||Peugeot 3008 II||14,171||12,134||19,492||22,219|
|9||Renault Twingo III||10,483||8,431||10,561||12,799|
|10||Renault Mégane IV||8,992||NA||10,524||11,483|
For the second consecutive year, the Peugeot 208 was the favorite car model of the French during the first quarter of the year. The 208 outsold the Clio, which was the top-selling car in France for years, and also took the position as Europe’s best-selling car model during February 2021.
The Renault Clio narrowly defended its second place ahead of the Peugeot 2008 that doubled sales and improved from fifth to third — the position the small SUV / crossover last had in 2017. The Citroën C3 slipped one position.
The new Dacia Sandero 3 was the most improved model with sales doubling and the model improving from 9th to fifth. If the sales of the Sandero 2 were added, the nameplate sold 21,095 cars in France thus far in 2021 — just a few short of taking second place off the Clio.
The Renault Captur improved one position while the aging Peugeot 3008 slipped from fourth to seventh. The Toyota Yaris, the top-selling car model in Europe in January 2021, was the favorite imported car of the French and improved from 12th to 8th — its highest position ever in France.
The Renault Twingo improved one position while the Renault Megane reentered the top ten list for the first time since 2018.
The Peugeot 308 slipped from eighth to eleventh — a new model is due later in 2021. The Renault Zoe slipped with 3,606 sales (10,151 in 2020) from sixth a year ago to 32 — roughly the position it held the preceding two years. In contrast, the Tesla Model 3 improved from 40th place and 2534 sales to 18th and 5,763 sales in 2021. The Model 3 was the best-selling battery-only electric car model, although it is impossible to determine from these preliminary figures how many of say the 208 sales were for electric versions.