During the economic downturn, France’s automobile industry was hit pretty hard with buyers having to tighten their belts meaning that spending on motors all but evaporated during recession years but an upturn in Europe, and elsewhere globally, has seen the country’s biggest three car manufacturers roar back from the brink.
Although not quite out of the woods yet, resurgent sales across Europe have seen the car makers back on the up as, in July, sales once again started to surge forward. Despite its home market seeing a fall in sales, the French car making industry has seen a bit of a renaissance with the PSA group grabbing second place in the list of sellers with an 11.1% market share over the same period, with sales rising 3.9%. Renault also saw a rise of 15.3% in its sales which meant its market share sky rocketed from 8.6% to 9.4% over that period. Zut alors!
Registrations of new cars were on the up between July and August as, according to the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), sales of new cars were 5.6% higher in July compared to the same time last year and the trend continued through August where they were 2.1% higher with the only market across the EU falling in July being that of France which saw sales drop off by 4.3%.
The Paris motor show last week was a show of strength by Peugeot, Renault and Citroën who all had new models and concept cars on display and it’s this renewal of their car portfolios that may have helped them make considerable gains in the sales of the domestic market. Since last year, the big three have moved their share of domestic sales up from 55% to 57%. Peugeot is also likely to have seen gains after its new-generation 308 model was declared car of the year and they’ve also generated a buzz of anticipation about their Quartz concept car. Meanwhile Renault has developed the Eolab as part of a government-backed research project to reduce fuel consumption and Citroën has launched its Cactus model.
Peugeot will take particular relief in their upturn in fortunes after they were hit hard and in dire need of restructuring when car sales dried up. The company needed to be bailed out by the French government and China’s Dongfeng Motor, with each investing £660m for a 14% stake but the deal did mean that the Peugeot family had to relinquish power of the company for the first time in its two hundred year history.
Renault also struggled at the time and had to sell their share of Swedish truck maker Volvo as well as cutting its model range, and pushed through a pay freeze, longer working hours and labour flexibility agreements. But time seems to have been kind to the car makers as the market has rebounded and sales in the European Union up by 5% year-on-year to about 12.5 million units.
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