PSA hit record sales as rivals struggled on emissions

-A +A

PARIS (Jan 15): PSA Group said global sales rose 6.8% to a record 3.88 million cars and vans in 2018, as the Peugeot maker's continuing China slump was offset by its purchase of Opel — and a boost from European rivals' emissions problems.

Paris-based PSA recorded a 31% sales increase in its home region, where its full-year market share jumped 3.8 points to 17.1% after the Sept 1 introduction of tougher new emissions tests forced competitors to suspend key models.

While Volkswagen, Renault and others have been badly wrong-footed by the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) standards, PSA had its vehicles re-certified on time.

The group "took full advantage of its perfectly managed new WLTP standard implementation phase to gain a competitive edge," PSA said in its sales statement.

Chief Executive Carlos Tavares, whose recovery plan took PSA from near-bankruptcy in 2013 to record profitability, also credited a pared-down lineup heavy on SUVs including the popular new Peugeot 3008 and 5008.

"We thrived with the rigorous execution of our efficient core model strategy," Tavares said. PSA is due to publish 2018 earnings on Feb 26.

Excluding the Opel-Vauxhall business acquired from General Motors in 2017, PSA's sales rose 5% in Europe — outpacing the market's weak growth — but fell 12% globally to 2.84 million euros.

In China, where PSA is struggling to reverse a sustained sales collapse, group deliveries fell 32% to 262,583 vehicles in 2018.

The company gave no sales forecasts for the current year, saying it would update its outlook with next month's earnings publication.

"The year 2019 is complicated to read," PSA Europe chief Maxime Picat told reporters on a conference call.