TOKYO -- France's Renault SA and its Japanese partner, Nissan Motor Co., said Friday their combined global auto sales rose 4.2 percent in 2003 from the previous year to 5.357 million units.
That gave the alliance a global market share of 9.3 percent, with 4.1 percent for Renault and 5.2 percent for Nissan.
"Commercial cooperation within the alliance bolstered the performance of Renault and Nissan in many regions and helped both automakers expand operations in new markets," they said in a joint release.
The rise, however, came entirely from Nissan, Japan's third-largest automaker, which expanded sales by 8.5 percent in 2003 to 2.968 million vehicles on the back of a slew of model launches.
The Renault group, which includes the Dacia and Samsung brands, saw sales fall 0.7 percent to 2.389 million units.
Nissan, which had flirted with bankruptcy in the final years of the 1990s, has staged a spectacular turnaround under the leadership of CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is scheduled to head both Nissan and Renault starting in 2005.
Nissan is expecting another year of record profits in the business year to March 31. In the April-September period it had an operating profit margin of 11.3 percent -- the highest in the industry.
Renault, meanwhile, has been forced to lower its profit margin target for 2003 to 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent due to a strong euro and tough market conditions, but has kept its bottom line rising thanks to its lucrative stake in Nissan.
Renault owns 44.4 percent of Nissan, which in turn holds 15 percent in its partner, Europe's fourth-largest automaker.