It seems that WLTP may well change the tradition of August being the French market’s weakest month. Given the surge in new car registrations for France (and the rest of the EU) the 28.9% growth for True Fleet will almost certainly have brought forward enough registrations to have one of the remaining months take the mantle of lowest registration month for 2018.
Private registrations were up by a similar percentage to True Fleet with a + 26.5% but it was the tactical “Special Channels” that really pushed the Total Market numbers. The combined sub-channels of Dealerships/Manufacturers and Rentals produced a pretty amazing 81.4% growth over August 2017.
Rentals were the biggest sub-channel grower but Dealerships/Manufacturers carried the highest number of registrations. How significant was this increase? Well interestingly “Special Channels’” additional volume for August was just 2,000 registrations shy of the additional volume from True Fleets and Private combined.
While expecting most of the top 10 brands to have benefitted from the True Fleet increase we actually saw a 60/40 split of gains and losses. Though from positions 11 to 20 the August sun shone brightly and we saw only positive results. Renault remained in the #1 spot for the 4th month in a row while also having their biggest growth month in True Fleets since December 2015 with a super solid + 59.5%. A good spread of models helped achieve this with Megane, Scenic, Kadjar, Captur, Talisman and Trafic all hitting triple-digit growth rates.
Peugeot and Citroën took the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively and were the first of the OEMs with negative growth rates, both VW (4th) and Nissan (5th) though capitalised on the market expansion with their Compact SUVs (Tiguan and Qashqai) heavily supporting the volume increase. Next in line were the three German premium brands, Audi surged by 44.4% but this could not be reciprocated by either Mercedes or BMW who both finished in the red.
Ford and Toyota both took their share of the surplus, with the blue oval brand scoring a + 29.9% thanks to the Fiesta, C-Max and the French fleet market’s continuing love for the Mondeo hybrid, while Toyota’s model spread was even.
Diesel hanging in there…just!
So with the boost in registrations from WLTP has Diesel benefitted? To some extent yes but other fuels have reaped more of the reward. With France introducing policy that will re-align the price of Diesel closer to Petrol it is interesting to see that these engine types’ registrations remain high in France but continue to drop in the both the UK & Germany (among others). Year-to-date the fuel is down 1.2% though the volume is very much in line over the same time period from 2016 (and 2017 obviously) whereas diesel is down 28.0% in the UK, 11.1% in Germany and 10.1% in Belgium. In fact, Italy is the only one of the EU-7 countries with a healthy increase of 7.5% for the fuel.
Our educated assumption is that while a higher percentage of diesel fuel costs (80% at present) can be claimed by companies compared to only 20% for petrol (though petrol should reach parity in 2020) that the diesel engine should continue to hold its current levels at least for the current year. 2019 though will certainly be interesting once the next percentage jump for claimable petrol cost comes into play.