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French sales forecast to fall in 2019 despite Peugeot 208, Renault Clio launches

Auto News - Published on Thu, 10 Jan 2019

Image Source: Best Selling Cars Blog
Automotive News reported that French car market could face a slowdown in 2019 after five years of growth, despite the launches of new versions of the two best-selling models, the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208, auto executives and the industry group CCFA said. The market at least initially would continue to feel the effects of widespread weekend "Yellow Vests" protests over the cost of living that have blocked access to many dealers, as well as delays in WLTP certification testing, Francois Roudier, CCFA spokesman, said at a PSA Group news conference here Monday.

Many models that were not certified by a Sept. 1 deadline were pulled from the market. Mr Roudier said that "We will stay cautious. We think the market could stabilize, but this is only our first impression. We will know more by the beginning of March."

Overall, French car sales rose by 3 percent in 2018, outpacing other major European markets, but sales started to fall starting in the autumn, and were down 15 percent in December.

Cetelem, a lending subsidiary of BNP Paribas, said Tuesday that it expected the French auto market to decline by 3 percent to 4 percent this year. The CCFA is scheduled to release its annual sales forecast at the beginning of March.

Peugeot France's commercial director, Guillaume Couzy, said November and December were difficult months dealers because of the "Yellow Vest" protests, which kept prospective buyers away from showrooms. Dealers saw very little activity, he said. "Our best hypothesis for the market in 2019 is that it will be somewhat stable," Couzy said.

Peugeot's French sales were up 6.2 percent in 2018, driven by the 2008, 3008 and 5008 crossovers, which combined accounted for 24 percent of all SUVs and crossovers sold in France, Couzy said.

Geneva debuts
Peugeot will introduce the next-generation 208 at the Geneva auto show in March, where it will face competition on the Renault stand from the new Clio.

The small hatchbacks held the top two spots in French sales last year, with 123, 658 Clios sold compared with 102,395 208s. However, the biggest-selling model to private buyers in France is the low-cost Dacia Sandero, as significant portions of Clio and 208 sales are to fleet buyers.

The 208 will be built on PSA Group's CMP multi-energy platform, with a full-electric model scheduled to arrive early in 2020. The Clio will likely take a different approach to emissions reductions as Renault already has the similar-sized Zoe electric vehicle with a hybrid version using two electric motors mounted on the transmission appearing in 2020. Diesel sales fell sharply overall in France last year to 39 percent of the market from 47 percent a year earlier, but PSA's French brand directors said the powertrain would remain essential for fleet sales in 2019.

The 208 and Clio may also benefit from two trends in France, the growth in “economy” car sales to 55 percent of the market from 52 percent in 2017, according to the CCFA, and a one percentage point increase in sales of hatchbacks and sedans, to 50 percent from 49 percent.

The battle between the Clio and the 208 is also being played out on the brand level. Peugeot's French market share has moved to 17.8 percent from 16.7 percent at the end of 2016, at the same time as Renault's has fallen to 18.7 percent from 20 percent.

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Posted By : Joykumar Irom on Thu, 10 Jan 2019
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