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By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) - France's Renault expects its sales of electric and hybrid cars to more than double to 350,000 in 2021, two sources close to the company said, as automakers battle to get ahead in cleaner driving.
Amid tougher emissions regulations, car companies are switching to battery-powered vehicles, a market dominated by U.S. specialist Tesla and Germany's Volkswagen, which is ramping up production and investments.
Renault's working hypothesis for 2021, bar hiccups due to a shortage of components such as semi-conductor chips, is for sales of electrified vehicles to reach 350,000, the two sources with knowledge of its internal estimates said.
That includes some 150,000 fully electric vehicles and around 200,000 hybrid models, they added.
Renault declined to comment.
The figures, which only include the group's Renault and Dacia brands, compare to the Volkswagen brand's projection for 450,000 electrified vehicle deliveries this year.
The wider Volkswagen company, which also includes brands such as Seat and Audi, is targeting 1 million electrified vehicle deliveries in 2021.
Renault developed electric cars earlier than many rivals, but a major push across the industry has altered the field.
UBS analysts said in a report this month that Volkswagen and Tesla were emerging as leaders in the category by a wide margin, followed by Japan's Toyota, and said carmakers selling fewer than 750,000 electrified cars per year would be at a disadvantage in the longer run.
Under new CEO Luca de Meo, loss-making Renault is trying to boost its profitability, rein in the number of models it makes, and is betting heavily on electric vehicles.
The group aims to make 30% of sales for the Renault brand from fully electric cars by 2025, with another 35% from hybrid models.
Volkswagen shares surged this week when it unveiled forecasts for higher electric car sales this year.
The German group expects fully electric vehicles to account for more than 70% of its core Volkswagen brand's total European vehicle sales by 2030, compared with a previous target of 35%.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume. Writing by Sarah White. Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Potter)