French New Auto Sales Crash 37%, BEVs Still Growing

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France, Europe’s second largest auto sales market, saw plugin electric vehicle share of 18.6% in July, up from 15.9% year on year. BEVs almost doubled in share, whilst PHEVs lost share. Overall auto volumes were 107, 548 units, down a huge 37% from pre-2020 seasonal norms.

french auto sales registrations by fuel

July’s combined plugin result of 18.6% comprised 11.9% battery electrics (BEVs) and 6.7% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This is a dramatic turn around from the 6.5% BEV, 9.3% PHEV weighting of a year ago.

Cumulative plugin share YTD currently stands at 20.0% (12.1% BEV), from 15.7% (7.7% BEV) YoY, evidencing the strong growth of BEVs over the past year.

Against an auto sales market volume down by around 8% YoY, and down 37% from where it was pre-2020, BEVs grew volume by some 70% to 12,812 units, a remarkable contrast.

Best Selling BEVs

July saw the Renault Megane hitting its full stride, and taking the #1 position for the month. This comes just 2 months after the Megane first started high volume deliveries in May (immediately gaining 6th position), and climbed further in June (5th).

The runners up in July were the usual faces, the Peugeot 208 and Renault Zoe. The Fiat 500 and Peugeot 2008 filled out the top 5. This is a good result for the larger Peugeot, which normally hovers around the border of the top 10.

We don’t have consistent data for sales volumes outside the top 10, so we can’t identify much by way of lesser known emerging models to keep an eye on. Either way, the Megane is the standout “hot new thing” for July.

The Dacia Spring has been tailing off in volumes since peaking in December. I suspect this is a temporary trend related to supply chain issues – there is plenty of potential demand for the Spring in France (and across Europe).

The bigger picture is the trailing 3-month chart, which smooths out the erratic delivery patterns of many brands:

The Renault Megane, from nowhere, is now gaining on the Peugeot 208 in 1st and Fiat 500 in 2nd, and may take the lead by September. The unknowns are; what monthly volume can Renault grow the Megane to (over what time period); and what proportion is currently being prioritized for the home market?

Since there’s also demand for the Megane in many other new auto sales markets (e.g. Sweden), Renault may have to start spreading the love around at some point. Not a bad problem to have.

Notable climbers in the May-to-July quarter, compared to February-to-April, were:

Meanwhile, there were those that fell, relative to the previous period. This time around, the losers came from high places (pride comes before a fall?)

The Tesla Model Y fared much better than its older sibling, retaining 7th spot, and growing volumes by about 10%. Most of the Model 3’s cool off is temporary, related to the Shanghai pauses of H1, and should be back on trend by September, saving further issues.

Note the strength of French (or French owned) manufacturers in the top 10, only the Hyundai Kona, and Tesla siblings are exceptions.


French auto industry data provider AAA Data made the following summary of the French market:

“The new car market continued to follow the same negative slope in July, the fourteenth consecutive month of decline. Even the second-hand market is now in lasting decline. Shortages, declining purchasing power and uncertainties about the future weigh on deliveries and orders… The problem of purchasing power and the wait-and-see attitude of buyers linked to fears about the future, changes in regulations and engine options have been added to the shortages of new cars for several months” (Marie-Laure Nivot, AAA Data).

I tend to agree that economic downturn, inflation, and uncertainly about the future are clearly shaping the French economy (as well as other European markets). At least France has greater energy autonomy than Germany, whose economic outlook is even bleaker, largely driven by the policy choices of its fifth column politicians who seem intent on destroying the country’s industrial base.

All of this suggests that the auto industry will continue to shrink in the coming months, but with energy prices remaining high and energy supply unresolved (aka “cold showers“), plugin electric vehicles are still relatively attractive compared to new combustion vehicles. Thus, even with falling overall auto volumes, plugin share will continue to grow.

What are your thoughts on the France’s auto market outlook? Please jump in to the discussion below and share your perspective.



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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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