PARIS — Sales of new cars in France halted a five-month slump as registrations increased 2.1 percent in February to 172,438, led by strong gains at Volvo, Opel, Citroen and DS, industry group CCFA said.
There were 20 selling days in February, the same as last year, CCFA said.
Registrations soared last summer ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline to certify new cars under the WLTP homologation regime but began to fall in September as models that missed the cutoff were taken off the market.
Starting in November, the “Yellow Vest” protests against new fuel taxes also hurt sales, as demonstrators blocked suburban traffic circles on Saturdays, preventing potential customers from reaching car dealers. The protests have dwindled in recent weeks.
Winners and losers
PSA Group had a strong month, with sales up 11 percent. Premium brand DS gained 26 percent, Opel sales rose 25 percent and Citroen gained 20 percent. Peugeot sales increased 2.5 percent. Renault Group sales were steady at 0.3 percent growth. Renault brand sales slipped by 1.4 percent, while budget brand Dacia rose 3.4 percent.
Volkswagen Group sales increased by 2.8 percent, with Skoda and Seat each recording 17 percent gains. VW brand sales rose by 3.1 percent. Audi sales fell 6.7 percent.
Daimler sales were up 8.4 percent, with Mercedes increasing 2.4 percent and Smart 82 percent, but with modest volumes. BMW group sales fell 14 percent, with BMW brand sales down 18 percent and Mini losing 1.6 percent.
- Click here to download February and 2-month French sales by automaker and brand.
Fiat Chrysler sales fell by 16 percent, with Fiat down 8 percent, and sharp drops at Jeep (26 percent) and Alfa-Romeo (64 percent). Ford lost 7.7 percent, while Volvo gained 45 percent as the XC40 compact SUV gained traction.
Among Asian brands, Hyundai was up 14 percent and associated brand Kia fell 6.8 percent. Toyota lost 0.7 percent. Nissan’s losses continued as sales fell by 32 percent.
By powertrain, diesel sales rose modestly to a 36 percent market share, from 34 percent in January. That is a five percentage point fall from February 2018, when diesel held a 41 percent share. Gasoline’s share rose to 58 percent from 53 percent last year, while hybrids held steady at 5.3 percent, and electric vehicles were at 1.8 percent, up from 1 percent last February.
Carbon dioxide emissions were 112 g/km overall, the same as February 2018, but up from 110 g/km in February 2017.
Light-commercial vehicle registrations increased by 6.3 percent, with Renault models holding the top four places, led by the small Kangoo van. Sales of used cars increased by 5.8 percent, CCFA said.
The overall market rose 0.5 percent through the first two months to 327,517, in line with forecasts from analysts and automakers, the CCFA said.