France: New Car Sales down 18% in December image

New car registrations in France plunged 18% in December 2011 compared with the same month a year earlier reflecting a surge in orders in December 2010 when buyers flocked into dealerships to benefit from a government scrapping bonus.

Europe’s second-biggest auto market logged 187,653 car registrations, accelerating its year-on-year drop from November’s 7.6 percent slide, France’s CCFA automakers’ association said on Monday.

Full-year figures show an annual decline of 2.1% in nominal terms (-1.7% workday adjusted). These results are inflated by the fact that many of the cars ordered at the end of 2010 were not delivered (and registered) until the early months of last year.

Sales of French homemade brands fell by 7 percent mainly due to the drop in Renault sales. The second largest carmaker in France sold 9.6 percent less cars with sales of low-cost brand of Dacia slid by 15 percent.

For the entire year, Peugeot Citroen saw a fall of 4.9% in its registrations in France, while those of Renault were down 9.6%.

Industry analysts also expect to see weak registrations data in coming months as the scrapping scheme applied to cars ordered before Dec. 31, 2010, and to those delivered before March 31 last year.

“Clearly, it’s going to be a bit stormy in the early months of this year,” commented Francois Roudier, spokesman for the French car manufacturers’ association.