Groupe Renault reports record sales, expects further growth

PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker Groupe Renault RENA.PA reported record sales for 2016 thanks to growth in Europe and in overseas markets such as India and Iran, and it expected more progress this year.

Rain drops are seen on the logo of Renault car parked in front of French car manufacturer dealership in Paris, November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Sales rose 13.3 percent last year and vehicles sold in 2016 topped 3.18 million vehicles - a sales record, it said.

“Our strategy of product range renewal and geographic expansion, under way for several years now, has proven to be successful. It enables the Groupe Renault to progress significantly in terms of volume and market share in every region,” said Thierry Koskas, member of Renault’s executive committee, in a statement.

Renault's figures painted a similar picture to that of rival PSA PEUP.PA which last week also reported higher sales, with the lifting of international sanctions against Iran boosting PSA's sales there.

Earlier this month, a source at the Paris prosecutor’s office said it had launched a judicial investigation into possible cheating on exhaust emissions at Renault, causing Renault shares to touch one-month lows.

Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE admission that some of its diesel vehicles were fitted with software designed to hide their true level of emissions has highlighted that most cars spew out far higher levels of health-threatening nitrogen oxide (NOx) in everyday driving conditions than in laboratory tests.

However, Renault executive Koskas told reporters that the company saw no similarities between itself and Volkswagen, adding that Renault had not seen any impact on diesel sales as a result of the French probe.

Renault has said it respects all laws concerning exhaust emissions, and that its vehicles do not have software enabling them to cheat on emissions standards.

“Our position is one of working a lot with the authorities in France and in Europe, in total co-operation with them, but our situation is not comparable to that of the other companies,” said Koskas.

Renault shares were up 0.2 percent in mid-session trading, outperforming a 1.1 percent fall on the STOXX Europe 600 Autos index .SXAP. The stock is down around 1 percent so far in 2017, having fallen nearly 10 percent last year.

Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Dominique Vidalon