French car-makers are making more headway with Australian car buyers this year, based on sales statistics from the first two months of the year.
Each of the three French brands selling their wares on the local market — Citroen, Peugeot and Renault — have exhibited significant volume growth year-on-year in 2015, many multiples higher than the total market growth of two per cent.
Of course, each remains a niche player and some way off a quartet of Germans in terms of volume, but each has found a way to make itself more palatable.
Leading, as it has since 2013, is Renault. The company’s impressive growth trajectory continues unabated this year — it has grown by double digits every year since 2011 — with the new Clio (up 26.5 per cent to 415 units) and Kangoo (up 200 per cent to 126) the heavy lifters.
An incremental boost of 176 sales from the new Captur in its first month also helps balance declines to the non-RS Megane hatch range (down 55 units over last year to 160) and Trafic (down 26 to 99) in particular.
All told, the company has registered 1295 units YTD.
Renault’s consistent growth is underpinned by various factors, not least its expanding network, sharper pricing (such as its regular $15,990 drive-away Clio deals), five-year passenger warranty and the inking of fleet deals with the likes of Australia Post for its van range.
Next is Peugeot. Once Australia’s most popular French brand — it nudged out Renault as recently as 2012 with 5071 sales against 5011 — it has declined recently. It managed 4394 sales last year, while Renault cracked the 10,000 barrier by 14 units.
But things are on the up-and-up this year, given 811 new Peugeots have been registered so far — 25.5 per cent more than over the same period in 2014.
Not surprisingly, the well-received new 308 hatch and wagon accounts for all of this, with 250 sales against 81 last year. This gain is 169 units, and Peugeot’s total gain across its range is 165… That said, the 208 has also recorded good growth, up 48 per cent to 157.
Finally, there is Citroen, up 18 per cent to 190 units YTD. The star is the C4 hatch, more than tripling in sales from 13 units to 42. The C4 Grand Picasso MPV has also grown from 29 to 45 units, making it the company’s top-seller.
The Berlingo van is up 24 per cent to 36 units, completing that company’s podium. The C5 has dropped three sales to 25, while the DS3 has fallen from 22 units to 10 YTD, making it the worst performer.
In July last year, Citroen sought to put any queries over French reliability to bed by extending its passenger warranty to six-years/unlimited kilometres, something Peugeot is not planning. Will it be that reputation's coup de grace? We shall see.
Naturally in today’s globalised world, many cars from French brands are not made in France, just like many ‘Japanese’ cars aren’t made in Japan and ‘German’ cars aren’t made in Germany.
However, of the 2296 cars that Citroen, Peugeot and Renault have sold between them this year, 1010 were made in France — up 38.4 per cent.
Thanks to drops in volume from Fiat and Alfa Romeo this year, French-made cars are beating out Italian-made ones this year (1010 versus 578), unlike this time last year.
Feeling nostalgic? Check out our feature video and story on our favourite French cars on 2014 here.