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The coronavirus health crisis is starting to seriously dampen the French economy. The French Automobile Manufacturers Committee (CCFA) has published the figures for March and the first quarter of 2020.

The French automobile union has published sales figures which have fallen sharply for the start of the year, with a vertiginous fall in sales for this month including two weeks of population containment.

Light vehicle sales divided by four in March and by three for the first quarter of 2020

No segment of the automotive market has escaped the global health crisis. Only 62,668 light vehicles found ownership in March, while the market recorded in 2019 more than 225,000 sales, a figure fairly stable in recent years. This also leads to a sharp drop in sales throughout the first calendar quarter of 2020, where there was a drop of 34.1% for the first three months of the year.

Commercial vehicles recorded a drop of 64.8% and heavy goods vehicles saw a drop of 49.3% in their sales.

Despite falling sales, electric and hybrid vehicles are accelerating

Nevertheless, we can observe a change in the distribution of sales by energy. In fact, between 2019 and 2020, electric vehicles tripled their market share from 1.9% to 7.1%.

At the same time, the share of hybrid motor vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, more than doubled from 4.9% to 10.9%.

If diesel engines have only slightly declined, yielding 1.3%, it is mainly petrol engines that have declined against the new more virtuous engines by dropping almost 10% of market share.

No automaker is doing well, sales distribution is stable

The PSA group records for the month of March 2020 a decline of -73.4% with its brands Citroën, Peugeot, DS and Opel while its French competitor, the Renault group, shows a loss of -71.6% with Renault, Dacia and Alpine. The total number of French groups shows a decline of -72.6% while foreign automobile groups record -71.8%.

On the utility side, the distribution is fairly identical. The PSA group lost 68% of its sales over the month while the Renault group fell 68.4%. For their part, foreign groups posted a decline of 58.2%.

If the drop is less noticeable on industrial vehicles, Renault Trucks recorded a clear decline in the first quarter of 2020 with -28.7% while foreign groups recorded a drop of 25.4%. This represents for the month of March alone a 49.3% drop in sales.

Source: CCFA