Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has told the Financial Times that he believes the alliance can become the world’s third largest carmaker this year.

The French and Japanese carmakers, along with their Russian partner AvtoVAZ, will sell between them nearly 7m cars this year – a number likely to push them ahead of General Motors and third behind Toyota and Volkswagen and its partner Suzuki.

Ghosn said that Renault’s performance this year would be helped by a resurgence at Avtovaz, which came close to bankruptcy in 2009, but should sell about 600,000 to 700,000 cars in 2010 because of scrapping incentives recently introduced by the Russian government.

He also told the FT that he believes 2010 will be a record year for the car industry on the back of strong demand in emerging markets.

Ghosn said the global industry should produce and sell 70m light vehicles in 2010, with most of the growth coming outside the US, Europe and Japan. In April PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast global light vehicle production this year would reach 65m against 57m in 2009, but still down from a peak of nearly 69m reached in 2007.

JD Power has forecast that global light vehicle production will reach 67.7m.

Ghosn said that Renault is “not anymore a French carmaker” with an increasing proportion of its sales coming from markets outside western Europe, and from products such as its low-cost Logan, which it mostly sells in emerging markets.

The auto industry, he said, will benefit from strong demand from emerging markets this year while consolidation between car makers will accelerate.

“You don’t know who’s going to be jumping into the laps of who and when and for what reason, but that’s going to happen.”