Renault sales worldwide fell 4%in 2008 to 2.434m vehicles, due to a nearly 10% collapse in Europe.

The decline in Europe was attributed to a lack of new models, but Renault will have to wait until the second half of this year for the launch of the redesigned Twingo and Laguna before sales are expected to recover. Sales in Europe totalled 1.644m units (-9.8%) in 2006.

“2007 will mark a return to growth for Renault from summer onwards. Outside Europe, sales will continue to progress and the Renault Group will reinforce its commercial organisation to prepare for the arrival of new products,” said Renault’s executive vice president, sales & marketing, Patrick Blain.

Renault blames its sales collapse in Europe on what it calls its ‘selective commercial policy’, a policy it has pursued over the last two years. This consists of privileging the most profitable sales channels (retail and fleet customers) and limiting sales to short term rental fleets and dealer self registrations, as these vehicles return very quickly to the used car market. This allows Renault to ‘clean’ the stock of used cars in its network and support the residual values of its vehicles.

In a statement, the automaker said: “This policy, while penalising volumes in the short term, allows Renault to prepare for the future and will pay off in the medium term both in volumes and profitability. In the case of Clio III its residual value has already risen by 6%”.

Renault remains the leading brand in the European light commercial market for the ninth year running with 319,334 vehicles sold for a 14.1% market share.

The Dacia brand grew over 50% with sales of 47,517 units in Europe.

In what Renault describes as the ‘Euromed’ region (eastern Europe including Russia, North Africa and Turkey), sales grew by 12.6% thanks to strong sales of the Logan, particularly in Russia. Renault brand sales in Russia grew 147% to 71,914 units. The brand also progressed in North Africa by 15.7%. However, sales dropped by 21.2% in Turkey, a market that dropped by 13.2% and was affected by the devaluation of its local currency in 2006. Even so, Renault remains leader of the car market with 16% market share.

Dacia saw its sales increase by 1.1%, thanks to the increasing presence of the Logan in Morocco (+369.3%), Algeria (+83.2%) and in Eastern Europe (Ukraine and Bulgaria) where sales have multiplied sevenfold to almost 7,700 units.

In the Americas region, the Renault Group’s sales increased by 13.2% in 2006 to 186,284 units, notably thanks to strong advances in Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

In Colombia, sales increased by 7.1% mostly thanks to the Logan, produced and sold locally under the Renault brand since the end of 2005, securing the second place in the market. In Argentina, Renault sales increased ahead of the market by 29.4% to 48,334 vehicles. In Brazil, in a market up by 12.6%, Renault sales increased 5% in 2006 with 51,557 sales, thanks to the launch of the Mégane sedan and Grandtour models.

Conversely, sales in Mexico dropped to 20,272 units, which Renault attributed to the effect of the cycle of renewal of the range. Sales of the Kangoo LCV of this market were good, and the Clio III will be launched there early in 2007.

Renault Group sales in the Asia-Africa region dropped slightly (-2.5%) in 2006 to 175,651 vehicles. The slight reduction was due principally to South Africa and the Middle-East region. The drop of 20% in the value of the South African rand prompted Renault to adapt its commercial policy in South Africa in order to focus on profitability, resulting in a drop in sales of 18.5%.

In South Korea, its home market, Renault Samsung Motors achieved 2% growth.