FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's 2014 sales rose 4 percent to 2.94 million vehicles thanks to a 32 percent jump in deliveries in China in a sign that mass-market producers were outperforming premium brands in the country.
PSA said China became its largest market, reaching 734,000 vehicles in 2014, thanks to the addition of 100 dealership networks and as customers snapped up midsize crossover vehicles such as the Peugeot 3008. PSA's China market share rose to 4.4 percent from 3.6 percent in 2013.
China is a key part of PSA CEO Carlos Tavares' turnaround plan after the French state and China's Dongfeng Motor each took 14 percent stakes in the company as part of a 3 billion euro ($3.8 billion) bailout last year.
Cars sales in China, which is the world's largest car market, have slowed from 14 percent growth to 7 percent in the past year.
However, PSA figures published today show mass carmakers may be taking less of a hit than premium brands like BMW, which faces demands for rebates from dealers unhappy with the level of inventory.
BMW Group sales in mainland China grew by 17 percent last year, with a total of 455,979 BMW and Mini vehicles delivered to customers.
"We prefer mass over premium exposure in China in 2015," Stuart Pearson, an autos analyst at Exane BNP Paribas said in a note today. "While growth in financial services should support the overall market, we fear that the 1 million plus units of new premium capacity added over 2014-15 will continue to pile pressure on pricing."
For the industry as a whole, the slowdown in sales was most marked in the fourth quarter, but PSA China sales are estimated to have been up 28 percent in that period, Pearson said.
By contrast, BMW this week said it would see lower single-digit growth in the region in 2015.
China's vehicle market may grow 7 percent in 2015, matching last year's level, although just half the pace of 2013 as the economy slows, an industry body said earlier this week.