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It is well known, the Germans mainly buy Volkswagens, Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Opel, German cars in short. The Italians ? Fiats, really a lot, Lancia Ypsilons, Alfa Romeos, still surprisingly a lot. And with us, Citroën, Peugeot and Renault have always had a place of choice. Only, as rightly noted analyst Felipe Munoz for the firm Jatothe big European brands no longer have the same success as before, even though they still dominate.
Plummeting market share for the national “Big Three”
To be convinced of this, he compared their market share in their national market (where the fall is most visible) between 1989 and today. Over this period of time, only one brand has managed to limit breakage. This is Volkswagen, the Wolfsburg manufacturer having lost only 3 points of market share in Germany in the space of thirty years. The dunce cap goes to Fiat, which has lost 30 in Italy since the end of the 1980s!
And our French brands in all this? If a Fiat-like disaster is avoided, the figures are not flattering. The Sochaux manufacturer has thus gone from 21% market share in 1989 to 15% in 2023, Renault from 29% to 16% (ouch!). As for Citroën, the decline is less significant (5 points less market share), but it must be said that it started from a lower level (12% market share around 30 years ago).
No need to be a mathematician to see that the domination of French brands, evident in 1989 (62% market share between them), is a thing of the past. To date, Citroën, Peugeot and Renault together represent just over 34% of total registrations in France.
Competition fiercer than ever
How did we get here ? It’s simple, there were many newcomers. Dacia, to cite only the Romanian brand, did not exist in 1989. Today, its market share is around 10% in France! And we could just as well salute the performance of Toyota (5.8% market share) which has broken through with its hybrid range and especially its French-made Yaris and Yaris Cross. A Tesla, naturally unknown to the battalion in the last century, today has almost 3% market share. We could also mention the fate of Hyundai and Kia, almost non-existent in the 1990s, now totaling more than 5% market share together. However, if the rivals are numerous, they are still multiplying with the rise of China. So we would not be surprised to see an MG achieve record sales figures in 2023 and further penalize our national manufacturers with its electric/electrified range at very tight prices.
What is true in France is also true elsewhere. Let’s go back to the spectacular fall of Fiat in its national market. First, the Fiat Panda remains – and by far – the first sale on this market (more than 100,000 copies in 2022!). So there is nothing to be ashamed of. Second, the ex-Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles alliance has enabled a certain Jeep to break through on the other side of the Alps since its founding in 2014. Again last year, despite its advanced age, the Renegade was the 6th best-selling there (and even 4th in 2022!). In summary, whether for Fiat, Citroën, Peugeot or Renault, the hemorrhage is unfortunately not over…
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To sum up
Historically, French brands have always reigned supreme in France. But is it always true?