French sales decline slows post-WLTP

November 1, 2018 14:46 CET

PARIS – New-car registrations in France fell by 1.5 percent in October, following several months’ disruption caused by the introduction of the WLTP type-certification tests.

There were 173,802 registrations in October, according to industry group CCFA, which had 23 selling days compared with 22 in October 2017.

Registrations rose 40 percent in August, but fell 13 percent in September, as automakers sought to beat a Sept. 1 deadline to sell most cars that were not certified under the new tests, through discounts and other incentives. As a consequence, many analysts and automakers had predicted a slowdown in sales in the third and fourth quarters.

Strong October sales increases were recorded at Seat, Dacia, Toyota, Skoda, Citroen and Mercedes, with each brand up 15 percent or more.

PSA Group sales increased 9.2 percent, led by Citroen at 15 percent and Peugeot at 8.3 percent. Opel sales rose 5.2 percent, and DS sales dropped by 12 percent. Renault Group saw a decline of 3.4 percent, with a 19 percent increase at budget brand Dacia unable to counter a fall of 9.7 percent at Renault.

Sales at Toyota rose 18 percent, and 14 percent at Ford. Daimler sales increased by 7.7 percent, with a 15 percent gain by Mercedes offsetting a 31 percent decline at the Smart city car brand.

Hyundai Group sales gained 8 percent overall, with both Kia and Hyundai brands rising an identical 8 percent. BMW Group sales inched up by 1.4 percent as Mini gained 8.4 percent and BMW brand fell by 2.1 percent.

Nissan Group sales fell 49 percent, as Nissan brand lost 49 percent and Infiniti sold only 10 cars for the month, a 93 decrease over October 2017.

Volkswagen Group, which has had difficulties certifying all its models under WLTP rules and as a consequence has imposed production stoppages, lost 24 percent for the month. Strong increases at Spanish brand Seat (27 percent) and Czech brand Skoda (16 percent) were countered by declines at Volkswagen (24 percent) and Audi (53 percent).

Fiat Chrysler also saw a large decline overall, with Fiat down 12 percent and Jeep sales falling 12 percent.

Light-commercial vehicle sales were up 6.7 percent for the month and 5 percent for the year. WLTP tests will be mandatory for all LCV models sold after Sept. 1, 2019.

French sales are up 5.7 percent for the year, with 1.83 registrations, the CCFA said. There were 211 selling days through Oct. 31, compared with 210 in 2017.

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