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French cars back on the shopping list

Shrugged off: Citroen (C5 Aircross pictured) and Renault have recorded big sales rises this year, while Peugeot is also on the improve.

End in sight for the tough few years experienced by French car-makers in Australia


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20 Jun 2022

IT HAS not been the best of years for the French car-makers as the recent pandemic washout hit at a time when Renault was being disrupted by its alliance with Nissan, when the EV march started and left its three big players behind, and Australian sales were affected by changes to distributors and dealer networks. And then there were the submarines.


This year, in the five months to the end of May, things are improving. It is especially good news for Citroen, up a staggering 222.4 per cent this year – albeit from a small base – compared with the corresponding five months of 2021.


It received strong buyer interest in the C5 Aircross medium SUV, with sales up 176.5 per cent; the C3 light hatch that found 49 buyers this year (up 69 per cent on last year); and the new model C4 small crossover with 62 sales.


Citroen and sibling Peugeot changed importers in mid-2017 to Inchcape. Citroen then lost its commercial vehicle range as it was passed to Peugeot, and this led to the model count falling from 10 to five and a corresponding sales drop of one-third from 2017 to 2018.


Peugeot fared better, thanks in most part to picking up the commercial products. In the period 2014 to 2021, its sales have fallen 36 per cent – normally described as “slump” but in comparison with its fellow French manufacturers, an improvement on Citroen that plunged 87 per cent in the same period and Renault that sank a comparatively modest 29 per cent.


Peugeot’s sales in 2016 were 3129 units spread across 14 models including two convertibles (207 and 308), five SUVs and one sportscar (RCZ).


The best-seller back then was the 308 small hatchback (1491 sales in 2015) and the 4008 compact SUV (825 sales), the latter a keenly priced five-seater made by Mitsubishi and based heavily on its then current ASX. 


The same badge engineering was done with the Mitsubishi Outlander that was sold by Peugeot dealers as the 4007.


In 2021, Peugeot sold 2805 units from eight models – including three vans and three SUVs – with the best-sellers being the 3008 medium SUV (1172 sales) and 2008 compact crossover (625 sales).


Of the range, rises this year were only seen in the 508 sedan (77 sales this year to date for a 71.1 per cent increase on 2021), and the Expert and Partner vans. The rest recorded sales falls.


This year, in the five months to May, Renault is being renewed after picking up a new import-distributor in Ateco Automotive in April last year with total sales up 73.6 per cent in the first five months compared with the same period in 2021.


Only the Master bus and the Trafic van showed declines – the rest were all in positive territory led by a 153.2 per cent increase (to 1443 units) in the Koleos SUV and the 507 sals of the new Arkana mid-size SUV.


In 2015 Renault had 11 models including one convertible, four vans and two SUVs, and that year sold 11,525 units.


By 2021, it also saw its model choice decline with eight offerings after dropping the Zoe, Clio and Kadjar.


Sales last year totalled 7099 with the best being the Trafic van (2093 sales) and Koleos SUV with 1937 sales. It is expected to record strong sales for its new mid-size SUV, Arkana, when it completes its first full year of being on the market.

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