Volkswagen sales down 3.0 percent in France after scandal
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
AP photoVolkswagen saw sales drop 3.0 percent in France last month, figures showed Nov. 2, as it continued to deal with the impact of revelations that it cheated on emissions tests.
The drop is a marked contrast with the 6.3-percent growth in sales the German brand had seen in France in the first nine months of the year, according to the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA).
Volkswagen admitted in September that it had used software to cheat pollution tests for 11 million of its diesel cars, including one million in France.
The company was not alone in seeing sales drop last month but its reversal was the most pronounced.
PSA Peugeot Citroen sales were down 6.3 percent in October, compared with yearly growth of 3.0 percent.
Overall, car sales were up just 0.6 percent in October to 161,000 -- though the CCFA said this was largely due to there being one less working day than last year.
The VW scandal has galvanised opponents of diesel cars more generally, and their share of total sales in France fell from 55.7 to 54.5 percent between September and October.
France has been reducing its tax breaks on diesel cars in recent years, leading to a dramatic drop in their share of new purchases from a peak of 77.3 percent in 2008 to 64 percent last year.
The shift to petrol cars "is going quicker than expected -- it's accelerating and that will continue," said Flavien Neuvy, director of the automobile observatory at Cetelem.
Renault fared a little better in the monthly results, with sales up 2.9 percent, against growth of 2.6 percent for the year to date.
Overall, the Volkswagen group -- which also includes Audi, Seat, Skoda and Porsche -- appears largely unaffected by the scandal with sales up 2.7 percent.
It remains by far the biggest importer to France with 12.9 percent of the market, compared with 4.3 percent for second-place Ford.
"Given the scale of the scandal, one could easily have imagined a bigger hit to its figures," said Neuvy, adding that it may take longer for the crisis to take its full toll.