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Citroën C4: one of the only compact sedans to resist the decline in sales in the segment

The Citroën C4 seen from behind with a red body and black roof

Launched on the European market in 2021, the third generation of the Citroën C4 has entered a highly competitive segment, but with a very clear decline in favour of the SUV body. The latter inspired the C4, which mixes the codes of saloon and SUV to offer a unique proposition in the segment. A winning proposition? The answer is in the numbers.

A segment in steep decline in Europe

The compact sedan market, once the largest in Europe, has been in decline for over a decade, a trend that has accelerated as SUVs have gained ground. This is reflected in the figures for the segment's stars, which show very sharp declines between 2016 and 2023, as we can see below:

  • Volkswagen Golf shows a drop of 69.49% (491,681 units in 2016 compared to 150,020 in 2023)

  • Ford Focus shows a decrease of 58.69% (212,083 units in 2016 compared to 87,608 in 2023)

  • Renault Mégane shows a drop of 55.68% (148,213 units in 2016 compared to 65,682 in 2023, thermal and electric included)

  • Peugeot 308 down 58.91% (194,650 units in 2016 compared to 79,973 in 2023)

All the stars of the compact sedan segment are very much down in 2023 compared to 2016, even though the market is around 30% lower, this is a sign of a collapse of the compact sedan segment to the benefit of the SUV body. However, the Citroën C4 is bucking the market and segment trend over the same period, having sold 50,806 units in Europe at the end of October compared to 46,939 units in 2016, an increase of 8.24%. Obviously, the Citroën C4's share of the segment is therefore much higher than it was then and it is very close to its competitors, even though it has only one body compared to 2 for most of them. . Moreover, if we add the sales of the C4 it was in 2016.

The C4 ahead of the 308

Even if the European figures show the Peugeot 308 ahead of the Citroën C4, with a much smaller gap than in 2016, as we have seen, the herringbone compact saloon is defending itself rather well and is ahead of the lioness in several European countries.

This is the case in Italy (3,555 units against 3,196 for the 308), in Spain (10,921 units for the C4 against 6,362 for the 308), in Greece (851 units against 613 for the 308) and these figures do not take into account the C4.

The Citroën C4 also beats the Peugeot 308 on the German market since, at the end of November 2023, 6,779 units had been sold (including C4 and C4 while those of the Citroën C4 are up 23.3%).

Despite this lead in many countries, the Citroën C4 remains behind the Peugeot 308 on the European market as a whole, especially as in France the compact lion is clearly ahead of the chevron sedan. At the end of November, 41,972 units of the Peugeot 308 were sold on the French market compared to 15,751 units of the Citroën C4. This large gap on the French market allows the 308 to take the lead over the Citroën C4 on the European market. This confirms that it is in France that the C4 encounters the greatest difficulties, without knowing the exact reasons that could explain this peculiarity, it cannot only be a question of "product" since the C4 is ahead of the 308 in many markets.

In conclusion, the level of sales of the C4 is a long debate, but it is clear that at European level it is doing better than the previous generation. Of course, the previous level was particularly low, but even though the market has collapsed, doing better than in 2016 is already a great performance, as is being ahead of the Peugeot 308 in many markets. All that remains is to find a solution so that the C4 sells more on the French market, which would allow it to match or even beat the Peugeot 308 at European level, which has never been seen before. In your opinion, what explains the specific sales gap in France?

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