PARIS, July 13 (Reuters) - PSA Group said its vehicle sales rose 2.3 percent in the first half, as the French carmaker's formal return to the Iranian market helped offset a continuing sales plunge in China as well as a weak European performance.
The maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars said on Thursday it had recorded 1.58 million sales globally in January-June, up from 1.54 million a year earlier.
But PSA's Chinese woes continued, with sales plunging by another 49 percent to just 152,380 vehicles in the period. The year-long slide has prompted a management and distribution shake-up in the region, as well as pledges by Chief Executive Carlos Tavares to rush out more SUVs.
In Europe, PSA's home region as well as its biggest, sales also dropped by 1.9 percent to 1.04 million vehicles, essentially weighed down by a sharp decline in upscale DS brand sales, which slumped 45 percent.
Iran, however, was a bright spot in the first-half numbers. The resumption of consolidated sales in the country helped PSA more than triple its Middle East and Africa sales to 277,971 vehicles.
Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta