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Renault sees 16.5% reversal in H1 sales

CAR maker Renault SA said yesterday that vehicle sales fell 16.5 percent in the first half of the year, a similar rate of decline as the global market, where the economic crisis is ravaging car sales.

France's second-largest auto maker said it sold 1.106 million cars and light trucks in the first six months of the year, down from 1.326 million a year earlier. In June, the decline was 0.9 percent.

But while the company kept its 3.7 percent share of the global market, it reported a 0.5 point loss in market share in France after a drop in short-term leasing sales.

Renault gained market share in Germany, Spain and Belgium, but lost in Italy and Britain.

Sales of Renault vehicles fell 21.5 percent, while sales of low-cost Romanian Dacia brand rose 20.3 percent.

In a statement yesterday, the company said in the first half it had "significantly positive" cash flow -- the funds a company is able to generate after maintaining or expanding assets. In February Renault said its single priority for 2009 was to achieve positive cash flow.

The automotive industry is struggling as customers shy away from big-ticket buys, forcing some governments to step in to help stem massive job losses. In the United States, both Chrysler and General Motors are exiting bankruptcy with the federal government as a major shareholder.

Renault, which is getting a 3 billion euro (US$4.24 billion) rescue loan from the French government, is bound by an agreement not to make forced redundancies in France this year.


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