PSA – Peugeot Citroen sales down 1.5% in 2011 image

French car giant PSA Peugeot Citroen on Thursday reported a 1.5 percent drop in its 2011 car sales amid the Euro debt crisis.

The announcement comes just weeks after Jean-Marc Gales quit, after he was unable to halt a slump in earnings and market share.

The company said it had sold 3.5 million cars last year, noting that as of September prices had come under severe in Europe and that performance across the region varied widely.

Group unit sales contracted by 6.1% in Europe but grew by 10.6% in Latin America, 7.6% in China and 34.8% in Russia. As a result of these contrasting trends, sales outside Europe represented 42% of the consolidated total vs. 39% in 2010.

“In 2011, the situation in the European automotive market, particularly the B segment, confirmed that our strategy of becoming more global and moving the Peugeot and Citroën brands further upmarket is the right one. Our new developments and the new Brand Department organisation will allow us to implement our strategy even faster.”

Situation in France

French industrial production unexpectedly expanded in November, the country’s central statistics bureau said Tuesday, challenging gloomy forecasts that see the euro zone’s second-largest economy in the midst of a recession.

However companies such as PSA Peugeot Citroen SA (UG) and Societe Generale SA are cutting jobs to cope with lower demand and the debt crisis.

“Europe is still in dangerous territory as the sovereign- debt crisis has turned into a crisis of confidence,” Elga Bartsch, chief European economist at Morgan Stanley in London, said in a note to clients.

“A mild recession over the winter could turn into a deep one if a full-blown, area-wide credit crunch materializes.”