FRENCH car sales this year will reach their highest level in a decade, says the French carmakers association. An accelerating pace of economic growth is said to be the reason. Car sales will rise 7% to 2.3 million units, said the French carmakers' association CCFA, which had earlier forecast sales of 2.25 million.

French new car and light truck sales in June rose 76% from a year ago after the government scrapped the annual July introduction of new registration plates. This had traditionally led to slower sales growth in June.

Registrations were 218,782 new cars and light trucks last month, the CCFA said.

Peugeot Citroen's new car and truck sales gained 46% to 66,730 units while Renault's rose 58% 66,536. Volkswagen AG unit sales rose 82% to 22,271 cars. The figures are adjusted to reflect the different number of working days in June of each year.

In the first six months of 2000, car and light truck sales rose 16.4% to 1.35 million vehicles. The two French automakers' share of sales in the first half expanded to 61% from 60% a year earlier. Peugeot's new vehicle sales rose 21% in the first six months, while Renault's advanced 18%.