French auto market collapses

Car companies seeing their sales decrease by half over the same period last year.

Vehicle driving down the Champs Elysee in Paris.

Sales of new cars in France dropped 27 percent in January. Renault plunged 45 percent, from the same month in 2011, and Peugeot dropped 37 percent.

Total sales of new cars in France for the month of January (ending on January 27) stood at 120,000 versus 164,700 vehicles sold in January 2011.

French vehicles took a pounding.

Renault's dramatic decrease in sales tumbled its market share to only 15.5 percent, a historical low. Peugeot's collapse in sales lowered its market penetration to 15.9 percent.

Citroen saw its sales tumble 31 percent.

Imported vehicles weren't spared from the slaughter.

Opel, owned by GM, recoiled its sales by 60 percent and Fiat saw their sales reduced by half. Also, Toyota saw a 22 percent decline and Ford witnessed a 19 percent drop in sales. Volkswagon was one of the rare performers of the month that saw an increase of sales by 23 percent from the same period last year.

Official French automobile numbers will be published on February 1.

The numbers are slightly skewed because of lower interest rates that elevated vehicle purchases until March 31, 2011.

But February isn't expected to perform any better with orders for the next month coming in equally low.

Filed under politics, economics, france, automobiles, Europe

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