Paris: French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen expects car markets in China and Latin America to rise this year, after growth outside Europe helped its own 2010 vehicle sales grow 13% to a record 3.6 million units.

Carmakers have focused on booming emerging regions including China and Latin America, and an upturn in high-potential Russia, as scrapping schemes that helped European markets ended.

PSA sold 39% of its cars and light commercial vehicles outside Europe in 2010, compared with 34% in 2009, it said in a statement on Thursday. That development strengthened as the year unfolded, PSA said, with 43% of sales outside Europe in the second half.

The group has been targeting international growth since late 2009 as a way to improve its profitability, unveiling models like the Peugeot 508 designed to appeal to Chinese drivers.

Rising demand in priority growth regions including China, Russia and Latin America, as well as local market share gains should help PSA move closer to its target of making 50% of its sales outside Europe by 2015, it said.

PSA sold 832,000 vehicles in France last year, compared with 375,600 in China, its second market, a spokesman said.

PSA shares lost 0.4% to €32.07 by 0952 GTM, in line with the STOXX Europe 600 autos index.

Progress with Business Customers

Sales of assembled vehicles only, excluding the sales of so-called CKD units that are shipped for assembly in other markets, rose 9.8% last year, it said.

Jean-Marc Gales, executive vice president brands, was satisfied with the group’s international growth and with the progress made with premium and business customers, partly thanks to new models such as the sporty RCZ and the Citroen up-market DS range.

The group’s overall orders in January are above those of the same month last year, Gales told a news conference.

PSA expects the European car market to stabilise this year, while China should continue to show double-digit growth and Latin America should show “robust growth" after 2010’s rebound.

In Russia, “the scrapping incentive scheme and general economic recovery, against a backdrop of rising raw material prices, should enable the market to continue growing and return to near pre-recession levels," PSA said.

Russian car sales figures for 2010 are also out on Thursday.

PSA’s European market share rose 0.4 point compared with 2009 to 14.2% in 2010.

PSA rival Renault, which has been embroiled in an industrial espionage scandal, on Monday said it would focus on overseas growth in 2011 after selling a record 2.63 million cars and light commercial vehicles last year.