Summary of our market study

Since 2020, the global automotive market has faced significant challenges, with sales falling sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the French automotive market saw a decline of 25.5% in new private vehicle registrations compared to the previous year, totaling 1.65 million vehicles, a number reminiscent of 1975 levels. Despite this, the used vehicle market proved resilient, with sales only decreasing by 4.5% from 2019, and then rising by 8.2% from 2020 to 2021. The electric vehicle segment experienced a surge, with sales in France increasing by approximately 160% from 2019 to 2020, and an additional 46% increase in 2021. This trend is supported by the European Parliament's move to ban the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. The French market managed to rebound slightly in 2021 but still faced difficulties in returning to pre-crisis levels, with car sales revenues reaching 127.85 billion euros in 2021, indicating recovery in market value despite lower sales volumes.

Driving forward : the evolving landscape of the french automotive market 

The French car market continues to be dominated by domestic manufacturers, with a notable increase in the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles, underscoring a shift towards more sustainable and innovative automotive solutions. In recent years, the French automobile market has experienced some significant transformations, navigating through the ebbs and flows of global and local economic changes. Notably, after a steep downturn in 2020 due to the health crisis, there was a mild rebound the following year, however, sales remained below pre-crisis levels. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of French demand for vehicles is the remarkably high rate at which used cars are traded—accounting for about 80% of car sales. Despite the perception of a shrinking global market, where worldwide vehicle sales saw approximately an 18% decline between 2017 and 2020, the French market has demonstrated resilience, particularly in the used car segment. In terms of market trends, customer preferences in France are shifting towards more sustainable options. As production processes become cheaper and more organized, electric vehicles—including hybrids—are anticipated to capture nearly a third of the market by 2025.

The legislative push by the European Parliament, voting to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035, underscores this trend towards cleaner energy vehicles. The customer base in the French market is diverse, and demand can be segmented into ten distinct categories based on buyer's preferences, such as low budget consumers who predominantly seek pre-owned vehicles, to hedonists with high purchasing power looking for new and luxurious models. In 2021, the desire to move upmarket, replace older vehicles, and reduce environmental impact were the leading motivators for current and future vehicle buyers.

Despite a strong inclination towards electric options, customer hesitancy persists due to concerns over the abundance of charging stations and the high costs associated with electric vehicles—although prices are expected to equalize with combustion-powered vehicles by 2024. Renowned for their national brands, French consumers predominantly favor local manufacturers like Peugeot, Citroën, and Renault. French-made cars like the Dacia Sandero and Peugeot 208 top the sales charts, with affordability and brand loyalty playing crucial roles in their popularity. Beyond the direct purchase of vehicles, the aftermarket for used cars has witnessed a surge.

Evolving Landscape of the French Automotive Market: Key Players Steering the Industry

The French automotive market, a dynamic realm that has faced both challenges and opportunities, particularly in recent years due to technological advancements and global events, is underpinned by notable players, each contributing to the industry's trajectory in unique ways.

  • Stellantis Group: A global powerhouse formed through the merger of Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Stellantis is a prominent force with its revered brands Peugeot and Citroën. These brands have shown resilience and adaptability, remaining staunch favorites among French consumers. Stellantis boasts a robust distribution network and continues to innovate, particularly in the field of electric vehicles.

 

  • Renault Group: An enduring competitor with deep roots in the French automotive landscape, Renault, alongside its subsidiary Dacia, has firmly held its ground in new vehicle sales. The company's commitment to affordable and reliable mobility solutions has won the brand a loyal customer base, reaffirmed by the consistent performance of models like the Renault Captur II and the Dacia Sandero 3.

 

  • Tesla, Inc.: A disruptor in the automotive industry, Tesla has made an indelible mark on the French market, particularly with the Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle. This Silicon Valley-based company has reshaped customer expectations around vehicle technology and sustainability, earning a coveted spot among the top-selling car models in France.

 

  • Toyota: Recognized for its pioneering hybrid technology and sustainability initiatives, Toyota is a respected player in the French market. Its Yaris model remains a popular choice, reflecting the company's capacity to meet the demands for eco-friendly and energy-efficient vehicles.

 

  • Fiat:  As a part of the Stellantis Group, the Fiat brand has continued to influence the French market with its distinctive European design and innovative approaches to mobility. The Fiat 500 electric is a testament to the brand's transition towards cleaner energy and its commitment to electrification.

The French automotive market represents a melting pot of established heritage brands and innovative newcomers, each vying to adapt to the evolving tastes and regulatory demands. French manufacturers enjoy a strong national following, while international contenders like Tesla disrupt conventions with cutting-edge technology. As the push for electric and hybrid vehicles intensifies, we observe a marketplace in transition, with each player positioning themselves to capitalize on the sustainable mobility wave of the future.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

Automobile dealerships are one of the many types of businesses that exist today for the purchase or resale of motor vehicles. They may be independent of automakers, but in most cases they are linked to certain automakers by purchase and sales contracts, which are rarely exclusive. The major French and foreign brands have all developed their own distribution networks, through which they sell their own-brand cars. Dealerships can sell both new and used vehicles. Indeed, the pre-owned segment is crucial, since around 80% of all car sales involve used vehicles.

Dealers are the so-called classic sales channel, and despite intensifying competition due to the emergence of certain segments such as online sales, they still manage to hold their own. In particular, dealers benefit from the historical image of the brands they represent, which helps build customer loyalty. This is also beneficial for non-expert customers, who tend to relate to the image that these brands have managed to establish over the years.

Despite the low level of presence in France today, the market for electric vehicles is booming, and is expected to account for almost a third of the market by 2025. Production processes are becoming less costly and increasingly organized so that vehicles can be distributed more quickly. This trend could accelerate with the European Parliament's vote on June 8, 2022, to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035.

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Sales trends in the car and light motor vehicle trade
  • Number of new registrations by vehicle type
  • Worldwide sales of motor vehicles
  • Breakdown of car sales by country
  • Forecasts for the global automotive dealership and parts market
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Latest news

Stellantis takes a radical turn in China. - 09/12/2023
  • Signature of a strategic partnership with Chinese automotive start-up Leapmotor.
  • Stellantis will acquire a stake of around 21% in the company for a total of 1.5 billion euros.
  • The two companies will also set up a joint venture, Leapmotor International, 51% owned by Stellantis.
  • Based in the Netherlands, it will "have exclusive rights to manufacture, export and sell Leapmotor products outside China"
  • The Leapmotor International joint venture is targeting 500,000 sales outside China by 2030.
  • Deliveries from the Leapmotor International joint venture are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2024.
  • Stellantis terminated its joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) in July 2022.
  • Stellantis sold three local plants to the Chinese group Dongfeng.
A hydrogen pick-up: Stellantis' answer to Tesla's Cybertruck - 06/12/2023
  • Stellantis aims to launch a hydrogen version of a RAM pickup in the USA in late 2026 or early 2027.
  • The hydrogen-powered pickup promises a recharge time of less than ten minutes.
  • Stellantis also plans to produce a hydrogen-powered utility vehicle at "industrial volumes" in Hordain, northern France, from next year.
  • Toyota, another major manufacturer, presented a prototype Hilux that runs on hydrogen.
  • Rivian, a new manufacturer, has already started selling its electric van, backed by Amazon and Ford.
Stellantis aims to become world leader in utility vehicles - 24/10/2023
  • Stellantis is number one in Europe and aims to become number 1 worldwide in the commercial vehicle market.
  • Stellantis market share in Europe: 31%
  • Twelve launches planned for Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat and Opel.
  • Range of electric versions: from 330 kilometers for the minivan, to 420 for the large van.
  • Stellantis has 15 factories worldwide.
  • Sales of Stellantis vans in 2022: 1.6 million (out of a total of 5.8 million vehicles sold).
  • Commercial vehicles account for 60 billion euros, a third of Stellantis net revenues
  • Stellantis aims to double sales of light commercial vehicles by 2030.
  • Stellantis' target for 2030: 40% of its LCV sales to be electrically powered.
  • amazon and Merchants Fleet have ordered 12,500 electric vehicles
Stellantis steps up a gear in the commercial vehicle segment - 24/10/2023
  • Stellantis presented twelve new commercial vehicles in four different brands.
  • Commercial vehicles account for a third of Stellantis sales, or 60 billion euros.
  • Stellantis intends to double its sales of commercial vehicles by 2030. Stellantis has a 31% market share of commercial vehicle sales in Europe and 28% in South America. The group sold 1.6 million commercial vehicles worldwide last year. Stellantis aims to generate sales of 5 billion euros from connected vehicle services by 2030.
Imaweb Nextlane: Julian Ciccalè, co-pilot for car dealerships - 09/10/2023
  • Nextlane has around 9,000 dealer customers in some 15 countries worldwide, including some 60 automotive brands such as Stellantis, Renault Group, Mercedes and Toyota.
  • Julian Ciccalè, Nextlane's CEO, claims that the company has almost half the market share in France, Switzerland, Spain and Sweden.
  • Since 2019, the company has made fourteen acquisitions, including Stampyt in 2021 and Custeed and Midrange Solutions and Services last year.
  • The sale of used vehicles is a key sector for Nextlane, representing over 5 million units a year in France.
  • Nextlane aims to achieve sales of over 100 million euros by 2023.
  • The company currently employs 850 people in eleven subsidiaries.
  • Cloud partnership with Salesforce.
Dealers cry foul against Stellantis - 03/07/2023
  • Stellantis has payment terms of up to 18 months, well beyond the 45-day deadline set by the LME law.
  • Stellantis has imposed a strategy of price increases to boost margins.
  • Stellantis' margin reached a record 13% in 2022.
  • Dealers report losing many customers as a result of this pricing strategy.
  • Stellantis aims to achieve a 45% market share in France over the next few years.
  • At the end of the first half, Stellantis held 26% of the national market.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Emil Frey
Gueudet
ByMyCar (Cosmobilis Groupe)
Stellantis (Groupe PSA et Fiat)
Bernard Groupe
Car Avenue
Maurin Groupe
Chopard groupe
Jean Rouyer Automobiles
GCA
Dubreuil groupe
Sofipel groupe

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