PARIS (AP) - Renault says a worse-than-anticipated slump in car markets in France and across Europe caused overall sales to fall 8.6 percent in the first quarter to (EURO)9.5 billion ($12.6 billion).
France's second-largest car maker behind Peugeot Citroen says it sold 638,498 units in the first quarter, down 7.9 percent from a year earlier.
Renault's sales plunged 20 percent in Europe, while growing demand in Russia and Brazil propelled sales outside its home market to 12.3 percent growth in the quarter.
In a statement Wednesday, the maker of the Megane sedan and Twingo compact car said it expects the collapse of Europe's car market to slow in the second quarter. For the full year, it sees the European market contracting between 3 and 4 percent, including a 7 to 8 percent drop in its core French market.
Renault's gloomy first quarter performance was in line with cross-town rival Peugeot Citroen, which also reported weak first quarter sales. It was also in line with analysts' forecast of (EURO)9.4 billion in first quarter sales.
Earlier Wednesday, Peugeot Citroen said it made (EURO)14.3 billion ($18.82 billion) in sales in the first quarter, down 7 percent from a year earlier.
The maker of the popular Peugeot 207 hatchback and Citroen C4 Picasso minivan blamed the collapse of markets in southern Europe for the weak quarterly performance. Peugeot Citroen sales plunged 20 percent across all of Europe, with falls of 19.4 percent in France and 22.4 percent in Italy.
Peugeot Citroen is taking a slightly more gloomy outlook on the European car market this year than Renault. It sees the European market down by about 5 percent over the full year, and by about 10 percent in France.
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