PARIS -- Renault's revenue unexpectedly fell in the first quarter as the automaker lagged behind European peers in recovering from the pandemic.
Sales fell 1.1 percent to 10 billion euros ($12.05 billion), the company said in a statement on Thursday. BMW and Daimler, by contrast, have reported better-than-expected preliminary results for the quarter.
Renault's reliance on Europe and a portfolio of mostly mass-market vehicles have dragged on its prospects for bouncing back from the global health crisis. Many countries in the region including France are still struggling to control the virus and have kept lockdown measures in place.
Car sales in Europe have been slower to rebound than in China, where Renault barely does any business unlike German automakers Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler.
Renault got a boost from rising vehicle prices in the quarter, for the third consecutive quarter, although this was not enough to offset the hit from shrinking inventories and other headwinds such as unfavorable foreign exchange effects.
The automaker reduced inventory by 26 percent from a year ago to 487,000 units at the end of March.
The Renault brand's car sales by volume was up 1.1 percent from the first quarter of 2021, but this was far behind the 21 percent jump at Volkswagen in the period.
While sales of the battery-powered Zoe model dropped, the company has taken almost 10,000 pre-orders for its Dacia Spring full-electric minicar. The electric lineup is being challenged by rival models made by VW and Stellantis, the company formed from the merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.