French rivals Renault SA and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA both saw modest sales increases in the first six months of the year, driven by a rise in non-European growth.
Renault, whose group brands also include Renault Samsung Motors and low-cost brand Dacia, said Monday that first-half car and light commercial vehicle sales worldwide rose 1.9 percent to 1.374 million, driven by a strong increase in sales outside Europe. The carmaker said the share of group vehicles sold outside the region grew 6 percentage points to 40 percent, helped by Brazil and Russia.
Renault lowered its full-year forecast for the global market and forecasts diverging trends between Europe and the rest of the world in the second half, with a 3-4 percent rise in the overall market for 2011 as a whole but a 0-2 percent dip in Europe.
In January, before the March 11 earthquake that devastated Japanese automotive parts suppliers and had knock-on effects for the global automotive industry, the carmaker predicted a rise of more than 4 percent for the worldwide market this year.
The automaker said the supply difficulties that have affected its own sales in recent months, which were not related to the Japan tsunami but to problems with suppliers ramping up capacity after the financial crisis, should start to ease from this month.
"The group's production sites will return to a high level of activity from end-August and our delivery times will become shorter," it said in a statement.
Renault's competitor PSA said it increased the proportion of its sales of cars and light commercial vehicles outside Europe in the first half as it chases growth in emerging markets. On Tuesday, it confirmed its target of 50 percent of sales outside Europe by 2015.
Like Renault, PSA is focusing efforts on fast-growing regions including China and Latin America as economic uncertainty and austerity measures mean sales stagnate closer to home.
The carmaker said the proportion of sales it achieved outside Europe rose to 38 percent in the first half, compared with 35 percent in the first half of 2010.
PSA said worldwide sales of cars and light vehicles rose 0.2 percent in the first half to 1.86 million. Excluding sales of completely knocked-down units (CKDs), vehicle kits which are sold for assembly in markets like Iran, sales of assembled vehicles rose 2.1 percent to 1.65 million. PSA sales of cars and LCVs in Europe fell 5.3 percent in the first half, against a market decline of 0.8 percent, the automaker said.
PSA blamed an "unfavorable market mix" for a decline in European market share, which reached 13.9 percent in the first half, compared with 14.2 percent in 2010. Traditionally strong markets for the group like France, Italy and Spain either showed weak growth or sales declines.
In China, the world's largest auto market, PSA group sales mirrored market growth of 10 percent, rising by 10.2 percent on strong demand for the Peugeot 408 and leaving market share for the two brands at 3.2 percent.
PSA has called China the "cornerstone" of its drive to become more international. In Latin America, the group posted growth of 21.7 percent, in a market up 13 percent, leaving market share 0.6 points higher at 5.9 percent. PSA sales in Russia rose 65.5 percent in a market up 57 percent after a deep slump during the crisis, with sales of the locally-assembled Peugeot 308 and Citroen C4 helping.