Traditionally important in France, largely thanks to the expertise of domestic manufacturers, the LCV market is also characterized by its robustness. It is considered a reflection of business confidence and its variations are often found to be correlated with macroeconomic indicators. Over the past ten years, this market has been stable, recording steady growth from 2013 to 2019.
The figures which have just been published for the first 10 months of 2022 for new light commercial vehicles (less than 5.1 tonnes) i.e. 285,752 registrations represent a drop of 21.10% compared to the previous year. The Covid crisis naturally went through this with a big halt in 2020, but the market recovered well in 2021, without however achieving its pre-crisis results.
The real shock comes this year, because the shortage of electronic components is also hitting the utility market, the level of equipment for which has risen sharply in recent years. The problems encountered are the same as for passenger cars with longer delivery times. But the utility vehicle is a work tool and it is difficult to accept a 6-month wait before being delivered. In some cases, manufacturers had to resolve to deliver semi-finished vehicles, where the center console was missing, for example. An extremity which underlines the tension of this market segment.
French groups represent more than 60% of the market
French brands dominate the light utility market and they are also exporters and powerful in several European markets. The distribution of market shares has been very stable over the past ten years. The Renault group represents almost a third of the market, mainly with the Renault brand (29.5%), but has suffered a slight erosion since 2019. For its part, Stellantis represents 38.4% of market share with 4 referenced brands (Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat, Opel). Future synergies within the group will certainly promote a scale effect with Fiat, but also Iveco, even if the brand has been placed under the Exor flag. The last quarter of the French LCV market goes to foreign brands that have long been in the French landscape with Ford, Volkswagen Utilitaires, Mercedes-Benz Vans, MAN and Toyota, which builds some of its models in France in cooperation with Stellantis.
Energy transition, questions arise
When it comes to light utility vehicles, diesel remains unchallenged, still exceeding 80% penetration today. Admittedly, it has been declining slightly since 2019 when it still weighed more than 90% in the energy mix. This decline is taking place in favor of gasoline and electric, but still at the margin. On examining the market shares of 100% electric LCVs, it is clear that these versions do not correspond to demand. In question, the limited autonomy, the charging time (still problematic compared to the planning of a working day), and the load capacities (in volume and weight) of the vehicles revised downwards.
It remains to be seen whether the deployment of ZFEs in all major cities will allow the development of energies other than diesel. The question remains open and awaits answers, depending on the public aid that is requested by professionals. The many initiatives and experiments on last mile delivery attest to this. The next few years promise to be decisive, especially since the subject is politically sensitive.
Market shares, well-established bestsellers
For the first 10 months of 2022, the first five places in registrations are held by French models, in the order Renault Master (22,647), Renault Trafic (20,295) Peugeot Expert (15,852), Citroën Berlingo (13,263) , Peugeot Partner (12,978). The first to import is still the Fiat Ducato (11,460) followed by the Ford Transit Custom (9,994). On the tables provided by the PFA, which are not always easy to decipher, it would also be necessary to add the previous versions registered in 2022. Thus, there are 18,971 Renault Kangoo and Express registered during this period.