French vehicle registrations rise during 2017 as diesel sales slump

02 January 2018

2 January 2018

New vehicle registrations in France rose by 4.7% in 2017, in the first posted full-year sales figures for the European market.

A total of 2.1 million vehicles were registered in the country according to the CCFA, despite the fact that there were two fewer selling days in the year compared to 2016. In figures adjusted for this, sales were up by 5.6%. The country is Europe’s third largest market after Germany and the UK.

The 2017 figures mark the third successive year of growth in the French market, following a 5.1% gain in 2016 and 6.8% in 2015. However, sales in December fell by 0.5%, however, adjusted to take into account the two fewer selling days in the month, registrations rose 9.4%.

Highlighting the decline of diesel following a year of decay in the market, the share in France fell below 50% for the first time since 2000. Registrations declined 5% for the year to 47% of all registrations, with a fall of 10% in December alone. Up until five years ago, diesel made up around 75% of sales in the country; however, following the Volkswagen (VW) Dieselgate crisis, the market has crashed. The technology has been demonised for its pollution, leading to the country imposing a ban on diesel, as well as petrol engine vehicles being sold by 2040.

Petrol registrations rose by 14% across the year to a market share of 48%, while electric vehicle (EV) sales rose 15% in 2017, and hybrid vehicles grew sales by 48%.

Of the manufacturers, SEAT, Toyota, Skoda and Kia led the increases across the year with sales growth of over 10%. PSA Group sales also rose 10% for the year, following the acquisition of Opel and the integration of its figures into the group’s numbers from August. Peugeot sales increased by 9.2% in 2017, as the brand benefited from the introduction of the 3008 and 5008 crossovers. Citroen sales rose 3.3% for the year while the upscale brand DS fell by 24% in 2017 but just 0.3% in December, as a steep drop in sales appeared to level off. Opel sales were down 33% for the year.

Sales at Renault Group increased 3.1% in 2017, with main brand sales increasing 2.1% for the year, while budget brand Dacia rose 6.6%.

Volkswagen Group sales rose 1.4% for the year, as sales at mass-market brands Seat (up 14%) and Skoda (plus 14%) offset a 2.6% annual decline at VW brand. Audi sales were largely flat, rising 1.7%.

Toyota led Asian carmakers with an annual gain of 14%, as the Kia brand led the Hyundai group, with annual sales rising 11% compared to the parent brand’s 5% rise. Nissan also posted an increase, seeing a rise of 3.5% year-on-year.