Renault sees new model push as softening sales decline

French carmaker Renault posted a 6.7 percent decline in first-half vehicle sales amid a global auto slowdown, but said a forthcoming product offensive would begin to help soften the blow in key markets.

Sales fell to 1.94 million light vehicles in January-June from 2.08 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The slump was outpaced by a 7.1 percent global market contraction, it added.

The sales announcement comes amid gathering gloom for the global auto industry, with major markets in decline and trade barriers looming. It also comes a day after domestic rival PSA recorded a 12.8 percent slump in deliveries.

“Renault maintained its market share in the first half of the year in a market that was in sharp decline,” the carmaker said, adding that it had held its ground with “no new products”.

The rollout of a new Clio mini will help lift sales in the second half, sales chief Olivier Murguet told reporters, bolstered by an updated Zoe electric car. Global sales of battery-powered models rose 42.9 percent in the first half.

While the core Renault brand’s sales fell 11.5 percent in the first half, lower-cost brands showed gains, with Dacia up 4.5 percent and the Russian Lada marque advancing 6.8 percent.

Group sales were flat in a declining European market but down 27.7 percent in the sales region spanning Africa, the Middle East and India, – largely as a result of Renault’s 2018 withdrawal from Iran under threat of U.S. sanctions.

Deliveries fell 5.2 percent in the Eurasia region including Russia, and 3.9 percent in the Americas, where Renault sees the Brazilian market rebounding 8 percent this year.

The global market will show a new decline of about 3 percent this year, Renault said, with Russia down a further 2-3 percent and Europe stable, assuming that a hard Brexit is averted.

Renault is scheduled to publish full first-half results on July 26.