Renault's first-half deliveries rise 5% on Dacia demand

Demand for the revamped Duster SUV, pictured, and Sandero hatchback, helped boost Dacia's first-half European sales rise of 24 percent.
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PARIS (Bloomberg) -- Renault Group reported a 5 percent gain in global auto sales in the first half of 2014 on stronger demand for the budget Dacia brand.

Deliveries advanced to 1.37 million cars and light commercial vehicles from 1.3 million a year earlier, the company said today in a statement.

Demand for Dacia's two best-selling cars in Europe, the revamped Duster SUV and the Sandero hatchback, fueled a 24 percent jump in the brand's first-half sales in the region. The no-frills nameplate helped Renault Group's European sales climb 18 percent in the period to 776,236, outpacing an overall market increase of 7 percent.

Deliveries in Russia, Renault's third-biggest market, fell 8 percent. The French manufacturer, together with its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Corp., have made a big bet on the future of the country's car market by taking control of AvtoVAZ, the maker of Lada models and Russia's largest auto producer.

Increased growth forecast

Renault, which will release first-half financial details on July 29, increased its forecast for 2014 growth in industrywide European car sales to a range of 3 percent to 4 percent from a previous estimate of 2 percent to 3 percent.

Renault, which owns 43 percent of Nissan, is pushing into emerging markets to reduce its dependence on Europe, where demand is gradually recovering from a two-decade low. That expansion nearly offset growth in Europe in the first half, as weaker auto markets in Russia, Argentina and Algeria contributed to a 9 percent decline in sales outside its home region.

Renault is predicting a further industrywide car-sales drop in emerging markets for the second half, prompting the company to push for price stability in its home region. The automaker’s first-half pricing on the continent was “higher than its main competitors,” Chief Performance Officer Jerome Stoll said in an online chat with reporters.

"The first half was clearly a huge surprise in terms of the performance they've shown in western Europe and the Dacia brand," said Arndt Ellinghorst, an automotive analyst at ISI Group in London.

Credit Suisse analyst Mike Dean said: "It's a pretty solid set of numbers. We've seen a slight pickup in pace - but it will be interesting to see how this translates into revenue."

Renault is due to publish full financial results for the first half on July 29.

Reuters contributed to this report

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