Friday 17 January 2020 11:48 am

Renault sales fall 3.4 per cent amid doubts over Nissan alliance

French car maker Renault suffered a 3.4 per cent fall in global sales last year, despite growing in its home European market.

Sales grew by 1.3 per cent to 1.94m cars in Europe, but fell 17.2 per cent in China. Sales fell by 19.3 per cent in Africa, Middle East, India and the Pacific region.

It comes after PSA, the owner of Renault’s arch-rival Peugeot, said sales fell 10 per cent last year to 3.49m cars. PSA was also hit by precipitous falls in China, the Middle East and Africa.

Yesterday, Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard insisted that its 20-year partnership with Nissan was not collapsing.

Senard said there was a “real desire” at the alliance to make a success of it. This comes despite more than a year of turmoil caused by the arrest of its architect Carlos Ghosn. He was detained in Tokyo in November 2018 on financial misconduct charges, all of which he denies. Ghosn fled the country late last month.

Nissan has robustly denied his allegations that it plotted to unseat him to rid the alliance of French influence from Renault. Meanwhile, both firms have poured scorn on suggestions that two decades of collaboration have turned sour.

Nevertheless, both Nissan and Renault are enduring periods of instability at the top. A new chief executive started at the Japanese firm in December, and inherits a company reeling from plummeting sales.

Meanwhile, Renault is still searching for a new boss after dethroning Ghosn-ally Thierry Bollore in October. Luca de Meo, former head of Volkswagen’s Seat brand, is thought to be a front runner.

The car industry is battling a slowdown in demand across the globe which has blown a hole in many firms’ profits.

Meanwhile, companies are racing to get ahead in bringing electric cars and autonomous vehicles to the mass market. This has prompted huge investment across the globe.

The combined financial hit has already caused some of the biggest in the industry to partner up to share costs. Last year, Volkswagen and Ford announced an alliance, while Renault rival PSA is in the process of merging with Fiat Chrysler.

Subsequently, analysts see the Nissan-Renault alliance as crucial to both companies’ futures.