TOKYO – Automobiles Peugeot SA sales in Japan have more than doubled in the past five years, to 12,600 in 2004, and next year the French brand will add three new models: the small 1007 minivan, the restyled 307 and the new 407 coupe.

“This year sales will be on the order of last year,” Frederic Saint-Geours, general manager of Peugeot, says at the auto show here. “But in a few years, we expect to be at 20,000 units.”

Japan “has a key role” in Peugeot's effort to grow internationally, Saint-Geours says, because it is an important, critical market. This year, he says, Peugeot is getting 35% of its sales outside Europe, compared with 32% a year earlier.

Peugeot believes the 1007, which has an electric sliding door and changeable interior trim, will be especially attractive for the Japanese market.

“Pininfarina (SpA) designed it with the Peugeot face, a large mouth and a feline expression,” Saint-Geours says.

Until now, the 206 has been the biggest seller, he says, but the 1007 could match it. Sales will start early next year in Japan.

In addition to its cars, Peugeot displays a V-6 diesel with particulate filter in an effort to sensitize Japanese visitors to the idea of diesel power. Only about 1% of Japanese cars are diesel-powered now, but as Peugeot is a European leader in the technology, any uptick could open new markets.