Renault has done an about-turn on its brand strategy as it tries to curb declining sales and under-utilisation of its factories.
“We are in a metamorphosis and going back in a direction we said we wouldn’t be going in,” admitted global sales and marketing director Stephen Norman.
Renault now wants to find a niche somewhere between premium and mainstream brands.
Renault has Dacia as what Norman calls a ‘smart buy’ brand to fill in at the lower end of the market, leaving itself clear to try to shift its image closer to that of Volkswagen. Renault also intends to add more diversity to its range.
Norman admits Renault was not quick enough to react to the success of MINI or the growth of the compact SUV market.
“Ford Cortina man has gone,” he says. “We have changed our philosophy within the company to be able to respond to trends more quickly.”
Renault has recently launched the fourth-generation Clio as the staple of its range and will soon begin filling in niches, starting with a small Clio-based crossover early next year. A ‘cargo’ version of the Twizy electric quadricycle with extra storage space is also likely to appear in 2013.
Looking further ahead, the first Renault to benefit from the technology deal with Daimler will be a “revolutionary” new Twingo in 2014. Norman also hinted there could be a small Dacia SUV in 2014-15.
“It would be a good question to ask in a couple of years’ time,” he said.
But the automaker has no intention of abandoning any of the traditional market sectors.
“I don’t think we’ll move out of MPVs. We are extremely committed,” Norman said. “And we are not going to abandon the D and E sectors (Laguna and above). Certainly not. Never.
“We just need to keep trying to produce a car like the [1980s] Renault 25, which did three times what we forecast. It is like waiting for the second coming.”