PARIS -- PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe's second biggest carmaker, posted a slight rise in first-half unit sales on Wednesday but sluggish demand pushed the figure down in western Europe.
PSA, however, still expects to achieve moderate sales growth this year, helped by new models and aggressive promotions.
The company sold 1.754 million units in the first half versus 1.743 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales of its Peugeot brand rose 0.6 percent to 1.028 million units, while Citroen sales increased 0.5 percent to 726,000.
"We confirm our full-year targets and our outlook for the markets," Peugeot Chief Executive Frederic Saint-Geours told a news conference. He said he was confident Peugeot would regain some market share in western Europe and continue its expansion outside the region.
Given the persistent shaky demand in western Europe, the decline there was an improvement on the previous half-year due to the introduction of the Citroen C4, Peugeot 407 and Peugeot 1007 models, PSA said.
"The figures were right in line with our forecasts and the second quarter was not as bad as the first," one London-based analyst said. "But their statement does not look very optimistic as it talks about aggressive promotional campaigns."
In western Europe -- PSA's main market -- sales dropped 2.3 percent as high raw material and fuel costs, lackluster spending and cut-throat price competition from overseas manufacturers took their toll.
Despite a 5.6 percent gain in French new car sales in the first half, and rises in Spain and Italy, analysts say it is too early to talk about a full-blown recovery in the region.
Peugeot's French rival Renault on Tuesday also posted a first-half sales drop in western Europe of 0.8 percent.
But outside western Europe, PSA's sales rose 9 percent, and represented more than 29 percent of the group's total sales.
The company said sales in China were back on track after a slowdown last year, with the figure up 59.6 percent over the period. Sales in China should continue to grow as the company widens its product lineup, it said.
Renault too saw its first-half growth come from outside western Europe, with sales up 16.8 percent.
Both Renault and Peugeot have given cautious margin forecasts for the year.