PARIS -- French new-car registrations fell by 20 percent in August after an enhanced coronavirus scrapping incentive expired at the end of July, with only Hyundai, Kia, Volvo and Toyota showing growth.
There were 103,631 registrations in August on 21 selling days, the same number of days as in August 2019, according to industry group CCFA.
A French government scrapping program to provide up to 5,000 euros ($5,990) for buyers trading in older, higher-emissions vehicles for new or used ones with the latest certifications expired at the end of July after 200,000 transactions were financed.
Partly as a result of that, sales were up 1.2 percent in June and 4 percent in July following sharp drops in March, April and May under coronavirus restrictions.
Even though August sales were down significantly, totals were close to typical for the month, traditionally the slowest in France.
Sales were up by 40 percent in 2018 as automakers sought to move vehicles before a Sept. 1 deadline for WLTP certification; the 129,257 registrations in 2019 were 14 percent below that figure, but still about 20 percent over 2017, when 107,455 vehicles were registered.
There were fewer than 100,000 passenger vehicles registered for the month in both 2015 and 2016.
CCFA spokesman Francois Roudier said that the rest of 2020 remains uncertain despite a healthy order book, with registrations for the year as a whole likely to be down by between 25 percent and 30 percent.
French consumer confidence held steady in August, official indicators show.
Sales are down 32 percent for the year through August at 998,409 registrations, CCFA said.
Peugeot fared best among French brands, falling by 3.5 percent. Citroen sales were down by 13 percent, DS by 41 percent and Opel by 3.7 percent, as PSA Group sales fell by 8.4 percent overall.
Renault sales fell by 24 percent and Dacia lost 6.4 percent, with Renault Group down 20 percent overall.
Among other European automakers, Volvo was the sole brand with positive sales, increasing registrations by 6.3 percent.
- Download PDF of French sales in July by automaker and brand here.
Volkswagen Group sales were down 35 percent, with VW brand down 50 percent, Audi down 22 percent, Seat down 22 percent and Skoda down 21 percent.
At BMW Group, BMW brand sales fell 0.4 percent, and Mini sales dropped by 12 percent. Mercedes-Benz sales fell 30 percent, but fellow Daimler brand Smart sold just 121 cars for the month, a 96 percent decline from August 2019, when 3,193 Smarts were registered.
Ford sales were relatively steady, down 1.8 percent for the month. Fiat brand sales fell by 11 percent.
Hyundai was the big winner for the month in France, recording a 39 percent sales increase, with Kia up by 12 percent. Toyota was also in the black, with 2.4 percent growth. Nissan sales fell 31 percent, and Suzuki sales fell 72 percent. Mitsubishi, which plans to halt new model introductions in Europe, lost 59 percent.
While the passenger car market fell sharply, light-commercial vehicle sales -- less affected by incentives -- held steady with a decline of 2 percent for the month and 25 percent for the year.
Emissions of CO2 were 97 grams per km for the month, as automakers continued to focus on sales of electrified vehicles to meet tougher emissions standards. Full-electric vehicles had a 6.1 percent market share through August, compared with 1.8 percent in the same period in 2019.
Hybrid vehicles had a 12.4 percent market share, compared with 5.3 percent in 2019, with plug-in hybrids at 3.2 percent, more than four times the 2019 share of 0.7 percent.
Reuters contributed to this report