Renault‘s international expansion strategy is bringing results with the group setting a new international sales record last year, thanks in no small part to the success of the Dacia brand.

However this could not totally make up for falling sales in Europe. Sales and marketing chief Jérôme Stoll said: “In market conditions that were tougher than expected, we sought primarily to defend our margins.”

In 2012, the group set a new record outside Europe with 1,279,598 vehicles sold (+9.1%). For the first time in its history, it booked over half of its sales outside Europe.

But sales plunged 18% in Europe. Overall, with 2,550,286 vehicles sold worldwide, group sales were down 6.3% on 2011.

The group set new records in sales and market share in two regions: the Americas and Eurasia. Brazil and Russia are now the group’s second and third biggest markets respectively.

Against the backdrop of the market crisis in Europe, where total industry volume was down 8.6%, and efforts to defend margins and restructure the sales offering in the UK, sales of 1,270,688 vehicles were down 18%.

Renault expanded its electric range in 2012, with Twizy, which has topped sales of 9,000 units since launch. With Fluence ZE and Kangoo Van ZE, Renault is number one on the electric vehicle market in Europe with market share of 28%.

Renault brand sales were down 6% on 2011, despite growing 13.9% outside Europe, while Dacia sales rose 4.8% to 359,822 units, buoyed by the expansion of the range in 2012 with the arrival of Lodgy (an MPV), Dokker (the first LCV) and updated Sandero and Logan lines.

South Korean unit Renault Samsung saw sales fall 44.4% to 65,691 units. The brand is restructuring its sales network and product line and targeting a recovery from 2013. New SM5, the first vehicle launched since the roll-out of the brand’s revival plan, has made a good start, the company said.

Europe remains the big worry. Renault is highly exposed to markets in France and southern Europe and sales have suffered from the significant downturn in these markets.

The brand’s policy initiated in 2011 to defend unit margins includes restructuring its sales presence in the UK, and elsewhere, realigning prices. Renault has dropped many models from its UK line, including the large Espace MPV/minivan, D-segment Laguna, B-segment Modus MPV, Wind sportscar and the passenger versions of the Kangoo van.

Stoll said the group would pursue its development strategy in international markets.

“In Europe, our objective is to win back market share while continuing to implement a virtuous commercial strategy. Our growth will be driven by the neww Clio, which has made a strong start, and by a major product offensive.”

For more details and data tables, click on ‘Press Release’ below