Peugeot should be able to achieve record sales this year and beat a high set in 2002, the French carmaker's CEO reportedly reiterated on Thursday, adding that orders for its new 407 model had been good so far.

Reuters said Peugeot is forecasting 2-3% growth in 2004 as it launches new cars into recovering markets.

"Peugeot will continue its growth in 2004 and beat its record of 1.955 million vehicles sold worldwide in 2002," Frederic Saint-Geours, CEO of the Peugeot arm of PSA Peugeot Citroen, reportedly said at a ceremony opening a new dealership in Frankfurt.

"We see today that to have the whole European market at the same level as 2003 is something we can keep as a forecast," he told the news agency, adding though that this would not be true for every individual market.

Saint-Geours later told Reuters in an interview he was "more than happy" with the initial reaction to the 407 model. "In terms of volumes, in terms of mix, we are very happy," he said.

The report noted that Peugeot's parent firm PSA, a former sector star, saw sales and profits slide last year as a dearth of new models amplified tough market conditions but it has pledged growth in the second half of 2004 as it launches new cars and as key markets recover.

Peugeot sales had risen 3.8% in the first quarter even without sales from its new 407 sedan which went on sale at the end of April, Saint-Geours reportedly said.

In Germany, Europe's biggest car market, orders for the new 407 in the first three months covered Peugeot's sales objective for the whole year, Saint-Geours told Reuters. The head of Peugeot Germany has said the carmaker aimed to sell 10,000 of the 407 models this year.

Peugeot reportedly is counting on the 407 to bolster sales - it aims to sell 150,000 of the new model this year and 300,000 in 2005, its first full year of production.

Worldwide, Peugeot sold 1.9 million cars in 2003 and its sister firm Citroen sold nearly 1.4 million, Reuters said.

To get a better foothold in Eastern European markets, Peugeot is starting to make its 206 and 307 models in Iran with partner Iran Kohdro, the report noted, adding that it is up against French rival Renault's new Logan car, which is being made in Romania for sale to the region and will be produced in Iran from 2006.