FRANKFURT -- Renault is narrowing its European sales gap with rivals in its bid to rise to No. 2 from No. 4 in the next three years. To get there it will need to pass third-ranked Opel and current No. 2 Ford.
In April, Renault Europe Chairman Stefan Mueller told Automotive News Europe that Renault aims to be Europe's No. 2 brand by unit sales by 2017.
Renault's sales are increasing at a faster pace than rivals, helped by the popularity of new models such as the Captur subcompact SUV.
Renault's five-month European sales rose 12 percent to 363,363 compared with a 7 percent rise for Opel to 378,591, according to JATO Dynamics.
This means Renault was 15,228 sales behind third-placed Opel, nearly halving the 27,356-unit difference that separated the brands over the same period last year.
Market leader Volkswagen brand sold 684,527 units, a rise of 3 percent, while Ford's volume rose 7 percent to sold 424,317.
Deutsche Bank analyst Gaetan Toulemonde said the Captur is helping Renault to boost sales. "Renault has increased the capacity for the Captur, which offers a clear picture about how well the model is selling. Before, Renault was looking at 150,000 units of capacity and now they are looking at 250,000 units in production so that is 100,000 units incremental," Toulemonde said.
Also, the Captur is not cannibalizing the Clio subcompact hatchback, he said. The introduction of the next Espace minivan and Megane compact car line will further help to reinvigorate Renault’s sales and profits, Toulemonde said.