Renault on Wednesday claimed to have been the number one brand in Europe for cars and light commercial vehicles for the fifth consecutive year in 2002 while slightly increasing its share of the European market, in a year of major new product launches.

Preliminary figures for Renault group worldwide sales reached 2,405,380 vehicles (cars + LCVs) in 2002, virtually unchanged from 2001 (down 0.3%).

Three new model lines were launched during the year, including a new Mégane which was voted Car of the Year 2003 and awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests.

Renault group sales outside Europe increased 5.5%, due in particular to the success of the Renault Samsung Motors brand in South Korea.

With growing market share, the Renault brand claimed leadership in Europe, despite a slight drop in sales volumes, which fell by 1.9% – less than the market average fall of 3.1% for Western Europe. On the other hand, Renault sales rose sharply in Central Europe (up 8.9%), where it claimed the second best-selling brand slot (up from third place in 2001).

Group sales also rose in the rest of the world. The downturn in Turkey and the South American MERCOSUR countries was more than offset by sales in promising new markets such as Mexico and Russia, and by the growth of the group’s other brands, especially Renault Samsung Motors.

Renault claimed to be the leading European brand for cars and LCVs combined in 2002, and for the first time since 1983 claimed the number one spot in the passenger car market. It also increased its lead at the top of the LCV market. Renault took an 11.3% share of the car and LCV market, compared to 11.2% in 2001, making it the number one brand for cars and LCVs combined for the fifth consecutive year.

With passenger cars, Renault achieved a market share of 10.7%, an increase of one tenth of a point over 2001, making it the number one brand in Europe.

Vehicles fitted with Renault’s dCi diesel engines accounted for 46.8% of sales compared to an average of 40.2% on the car market overall.

In France, Renault increased its market share for cars and LCVs combined by four tenths of a point to 28.4% in 2002.

On the passenger car market, Renault achieved its target of a 27% market share, up four tenths of a point compared to 2001.

The Renault brand recorded a significant rise in sales in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Australia, China and Taiwan. A total of 17,115 vehicles were sold, an increase of 25.2%.

Turkey and Argentina, where sales plunged 15.4% and 51.3% respectively, continued to be hard hit by recession. Nonetheless, Renault claimed to be the number one brand for cars and LCVs combined in Argentina. The Brazilian market declined by 7.3% which had a greater impact on segments in which Renault was present, resulting in a drop in the brand’s market share.

Renault increased its sales in Northern Latin America (up 28.6%), thanks to its excellent performance in Mexico (15,877 units) and Colombia.

In addition, Renault built on its success in areas such as Africa and the Middle East (69,035 vehicles sold with an increase of 41.1% in Algeria) as well as Eastern Europe and Russia (73,897 vehicles sold, of which 8,248 were in Russia where the brand rose 47.1%).

The Renault group took 56.8% of the combined car and LCV market in Romania (with 8,815 units sold for the Renault brand (up 39.6%). Dacia registered a total of 57,783 units (up 5.1%).

In an economic environment that still looks uncertain, Renault expects the market in Western Europe to remain stable in 2003 or to fall slightly.

With the gradual launch of four new body types for the Mégane line over the year, the renewal of Renault’s mainstream models will reach its full potential.

Other forthcoming updates are Phase 2 of the Kangoo commercial and passenger van line and the expansion of the LCV range with new versions of existing models. The extension of the ranges of the group’s other brands is also on the horizon. It began with Renault Samsung Motors at the end of 2002 and is scheduled to continue with Dacia in 2003.