Opel helps France’s PSA buck China, Iran auto downturn

PARIS (AFP) – French auto giant Groupe PSA, which makes the Citroen and Peugeot brands, reported record vehicle sales yesterday as the acquisition of General Motors’ Opel unit helped offset a sharp downturn in key markets China and Iran.

PSA sold 3.88 million vehicles, up 6.8 per cent from 2017 when it acquired the Opel business which includes British-based Vauxhall.

PSA said that without the Opel contribution, 2018 sales would have been down 12 per cent despite a strong showing in Europe.

Ranked second in Europe after Germany’s Volkswagen, PSA said it did well last year to increase overall sales “for a fifth consecutive year… against a background of adverse economic and geopolitical winds”.

The company failed, however, to hit the overall target of four million vehicles it had set, largely due to the impact of fresh sanctions imposed on Iran by US President Donald Trump and a slump in China. PSA announced in June that it was suspending operations in Iran, where it would have expected sales of 300,000 vehicles.