By Laurence Frost
PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault posted record vehicle sales for the first half as a sustained product offensive lifted global deliveries by 10.4 percent - with a well-timed China SUV launch and a renewed push into Iran both contributing.
Sales advanced to 1.88 million light vehicles in January-June, Renault said on Monday, at four times the rate of the global auto market's 2.6 percent expansion.
Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, is reaping the rewards of a comprehensive overhaul of its lineup under chief designer Laurens van den Acker, who joined the company eight years ago. Sales have also benefited from a surge in European demand for the group's no-frills Dacia brand and more recently from the success of its Captur mini-SUV.
"Our strategy of range renewal and geographical expansion continues to produce results," sales chief Thierry Koskas said.
Renault shares were up 1.7 percent in early session trading. The group's upbeat sales numbers contrasted with a weaker first-half showing from domestic rival PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars.
In Europe, which still accounts for more than half of its sales, Renault posted 5.6 percent growth in deliveries, outpacing the market thanks to Dacia's 9.3 percent surge following a revamp of its Sandero budget subcompact.
Sales in the reopening Iranian market more than doubled to 68,365 vehicles, while new models for the Lada brand helped deliver a 14 percent sales gain for the group in a Russian market that returned to 6.9 percent growth in the first half.
Auto demand in Russia and Brazil is expected to grow 5 percent or more for the full year, Renault said, upgrading the "stable" market forecasts given in February. It also predicted a global market expansion of 1.5-2.5 percent, compared with a previously forecast range of 1.5-2 percent.
Asia-Pacific sales rose by more than half to 100,452 vehicles in the first half, Renault said, helped by demand for its new Koleos SUV in China, where sales more than tripled to almost 36,000 vehicles.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)