Renault looking to build on record year

French carmaker Renault yesterday reported a 3.3% rise in global sales for 2015, saying new models helped it to grab a bigger share of rebounding European demand and hold its own in troubled emerging markets.

Deliveries increased to 2.8m cars and vans last year— a record for the group—- at a rate that was more than double the global market’s 1.6% advance.

Renault pledged to increase sales across the board in 2016 as the global market expands by a forecast 1%-2%, with European and French demand growth at the upper end of the range.

“Our growth will accelerate in 2016 and we will improve our positions in all our regions,” sales chief Thierry Koskas said in a statement.

Boosted by recent launches, including the Kadjar and Captur SUVs, Renault’s European sales rose 10.2% in 2015, outpacing the market’s 9.4% growth.

However, deliveries dropped 14.8% in South America and 8.6% in Renault’s Eurasia region, which is mainly Russia, broadly in line with collapsing demand in those markets.

The emerging-market slump also held back sales of no-frills cars including the Logan and Sandero compacts. Sales in the so-called Global Access category fell 1.4% to 1.11m vehicles.

That accounted for 40% of group sales, down two percentage points from 2014.

The company is betting on the recent arrival of the ultra low-cost Kwid mini-SUV in India to bring renewed growth in budget vehicles this year.

Renault shares dipped in early trading yesterday.

The stock fell sharply last week on reports that the carmaker’s offices were raided by French authorities investigating its reporting of engine emissions in the wake of the scandal over test-rigging by Volkswagen.

Renault and French officials have denied any software cheats were identified, but investors remain concerned the company could be hit by a crackdown on vehicles with real-world nitrogen oxide emissions in excess of European norms.

The carmaker was expected to outline plans to improve its diesel emissions in a presentation to French officials yesterday evening.

Lawyers said Renault should have disclosed the raid itself and may face legal claims. At the very least, they said the incident may have undermined its reputation with shareholders.

“Renault management risk being seen as untrustworthy or simply as stupid,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan.

“The news was surely going to come out. Management should have been the ones to announce it, not the ones who look as if they foolishly hoped to conceal it.”

Renault said it’s co-operating fully with the investigation, without providing details on what may have been seized.

The company remains confident about the results of the investigation.


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