PARIS – France’s 11.2% decline in passenger-car registrations in April hides news of the early days of the electric-vehicle revival here.
During the month, 106 Citroen C-Zeros were registered, as well as 76 Peugeot iOns, twoRoadsters, two i-MiEVs and one Leaf.
The electric cars benefit from France’s bonus of E5,000 ($7,200) for cars that emit less than 50 g/km of carbon dioxide.
At the same time, reports website Autoactu.fr, sales of cars powered by liquid-petroleum gas have collapsed, following the end of a government bonus of E2,000 ($2,900). In April, only 114 LPG cars were sold, compared with more than 4,000 one year ago.
The contrast for the two low-carbon powertrains suggests the EV market could face difficulties when governments remove support. It also demonstrates the power of government to influence a marketplace.
The 11.2% decline in overall new-vehicle sales further reflects the consequence of ending government incentives. A year ago, France paid a bonus to people scrapping an old car when buying a new one. That ended when 2010 did, but there was some carryover in the first quarter on cars ordered under bonus terms but not delivered until this year.
The three French brands saw sales fall a combined 20.2%, which gave all their competitors buta chance to pick up market share.
Toyota and Nissan led the gainers, with sales up more than 25%. BMW,, Daimler and Volkswagen all increased penetration, while volume at and fell at a rate less than the overall market decline. Fiat sales plunged 17.1%.
In its search for good news, Peugeot notes the 308 model’s 6,800 orders were 40% ahead of last year’s 307-model sales and the 508 booked 2,600 orders in April.
Of the electric Peugeot iOns, 41 were delivered to a car-sharing program in Nice and 20 joined a company fleet in Lyon.
AlthoughGroup sales were off by 19.1%, Dacia volume gained 6.6% in April. And while the French auto maker lacked several thousand sales of LPG Sanderos from a year earlier, deliveries of the Duster SUV were strong, as it was the sixth highest-selling nameplate in the month.
says it has suffered supply problems since the first of the year and that its order books remain at a healthy level.