PARIS -- Registrations in France fell by 13 percent in January compared to the same month in 2019, as the market adjusted to stricter new EU and French emissions rules.
However, sales of battery-electric, full-hybrid and plug-in-hybrid vehicles soared, and as a result, carbon-dioxide emissions fell to an average of 96 grams per km for the month compared with 113 g/km in December, industry association CCFA said.
The fleet average for Europe under the new rules is 95 g/km.
With 22 selling days, there were 134,230 registrations in January. That was about 77,000 fewer than in December, when sales jumped by 28 percent as automakers rushed to sell high-polluting models before new EU emissions regulations started on Jan. 1. December sales were also boosted by an impending lower threshold for the "malus," or environmental penalty, for cars that emit a high level of carbon dioxide.
Starting Jan. 1, buyers paid the fees on vehicles that emit 110 g/km of CO2 on the so-called correlated NEDC cycle, compared with the earlier limit of 117 g/km, meaning that more cars are subject to the penalty.
The penalties increase with emissions, so cars already subject to a penalty will pay even higher fees. And the minimum penalty was also raised to 50 euros from 35 euros, and the maximum payment for the highest-polluting cars increased to 20,000 euros from 10,500 euros.
Full-electric vehicles had an 8.2 percent market share in January, for a total of 10,952 sales, up from 1.8 percent for all of 2019. Plug-in hybrids, which many automakers are counting on to help them reach their emissions targets, had a 2.8 percent share, compared with 0.8 percent for all of 2019. Overall, hybrids made up 11.4 percent of the market, while the total for 2019 was 5.7 percent.
The Renault Zoe full-electric small car was the third-best-selling vehicle in France for the month, with 5,331 sales.
Winners and losers
Many volume brands recorded steep declines in January, with Suzuki down 44 percent, Mercedes down 43 percent, Dacia falling by 39 percent and Mini down 37 percent.
But sales were up at several brands, most notably DS, up by 40 percent thanks to the DS 3 Crossback SUV, introduced last spring; and Nissan, up by 29 percent, following the introduction of a new generation of the Juke SUV.
- Click here to download January French sales by automaker and brand.
Among French brands, PSA Group sales fell by 5.9 percent, with Peugeot sales down 1.4 percent, Citroen down by 11 percent and Opel down by 27 percent, despite DS's gains.
Renault Group sales fell by 17 percent, with a drop of 9.4 percent for Renault in addition to Dacia's downturn.
Among foreign brands, Volkswagen Group sales were down 17 percent, with gains of 16 percent for Spanish brand Seat and 5.9 percent for Czech brand Skoda unable to counter declines at Volkswagen (30 percent) and Audi (12 percent).
Other brands that saw sharp drops were Volvo, down 51 percent; Fiat, down 36 percent; and Ford, down 33 percent. BMW brand sales fell by 4.5 percent.
At Asian brands, Toyota sales rose 16 percent, Hyundai sales fell by 3.7 percent and Kia fell by 13 percent.
Light-commercial vehicle sales fell by 9.3 percent.