Overall, French new car sales fell in the first quarter and recorded their tenth straight month of declines with an almost 20% drop in March, as the auto industry struggles to with supply chain issues including a global shortage of semiconductor chips.
Sales of fully electric and hybrid models accounted for nearly 40% of new car sales, versus 38.3% for conventional petrol models, according to industry data provided by the Plateforme automobile (PFA).
A spokesperson for the PFA said due to uncertainty over the war in Ukraine and shortages of some components, it was not possible to provide a forecast for French new car sales in 2022.
Adding in diesel model sales' market share of 16.5% in the first quarter, pure combustion engine models are still in the majority.
But this is a sea change in auto sales, as electrified vehicles were a niche market just three years ago.
Encouraged by subsidies, looming bans on fossil-fuel models and high petrol prices, electrified models have become mainstream in a very short space of time.
The top-selling electric car in France in March was Tesla's mass-market Model 3, followed by the Dacia Spring from Renault and the Peugeot 208 from Stellantis.
French car sales were down 17.3% in the first quarter.
In 2020, the French car market fell off a cliff due to the coronavirus pandemic, but then rose slightly in 2021.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Nick Carey; Editing by Mark Potter)
By Gilles Guillaume