PARIS -- Registrations in France increased by 40 percent in August, with gains largely due to the effects of new type approval standards that took effect on Sept. 1.
After that date, automakers are allowed to sell only vehicles that have been certified under the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure, or WLTP, with few exceptions.
Analysts had predicted that many automakers would offer discounts and other incentives to sell any remaining non-WLTP compliant vehicles this summer.
All models and variants have to be certified under the test, which seek to more closely match real-world driving conditions than the old test, the NEDC. Some manufacturers were able to avoid testing bottlenecks and delays and completed certification earlier this year, while others struggled to complete the procedure by the deadline.
PSA Group said last week that all its models were WLTP-compliant and were available to order.
Monthly sales in August were 150,391, according to industry group CCFA. There were 22 selling days in August, the same as in 2017. Sales in July increased 19 percent.
"We attribute the extremely strong performance to OEM discounting ahead of the new WLTP testing procedure," Evercore ISI said in a note to investors, adding that similar gains were expected in other European countries.
French sales are up 8.9 percent for the first eight months to 1.51 million, and 8.2 percent based on an equal number of selling days. However, automakers are expecting sales to slow in the third and fourth quarter as WLTP incentives end.
Several brands recorded triple-digit gains in August, led by Alfa Romeo with an increase of 222 percent. Jeep sales increased 192 percent. Sales at VW Group's Spanish brand Seat rose 118 percent, and Nissan sales were up 104 percent.
• Download PDF, above right, for August sales by automaker and brand.
Renault Group sales increased by 52 percent, with Renault up 54 percent and low-cost brand Dacia rising 46 percent. Sales at PSA Group were up 23 percent, led by Citroen's 42 percent increase. Peugeot sales increased 17 percent, DS sales by 11 percent, and Opel saw a 2 percent increase.
Fiat sales rose 62 percent, as the Fiat Chrysler group gained 92 percent for the month. Volkswagen Group sales increased by 50 percent overall, with Skoda up 56 percent and VW brand up 34 percent.
Daimler sales rose 12 percent, with Mercedes-Benz up 8.5 percent and Smart up 45 percent. BMW sales increased by 9.3 percent: 13 percent at Mini and 8.1 percent for BMW brand.
Hyundai group sales increased 24 percent, including 30 percent for Hyundai and 19 percent for Kia. Toyota sales increased 14 percent.
Diesel sales held steady at 40 percent of the market, an eight-percentage point decrease from 2017. Gasoline powertrains accounted for 54 percent of the market, with the remainder largely hybrids. Electric vehicles made up 1.2 percent of sales, unchanged from a year ago.