Renault close sales gap on back of scrappage success
WITH a goodly mix of Frenchmen, experienced Irishmen and a sole Belgian, the new team behind the recent incredible success of Renault here put themselves on display last Monday in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. They were a likeable but hard-nosed bunch led by Eric Basset, who previously had a prestigious job for Renault in Switzerland.
As the motoring press assembled before the lunch, (for which, regrettably, I could only stay for two courses) there was a great buzz about the latest sales figures. Renault had only come a couple of handfuls of sales behind Ford -- actually 733 against 744.
This figure only further emphasised just how well the company has done here since it began its own scrappage deal six months ago. The marque now has some of the most keenly priced cars on the road and its range will get bigger in just over a month's time, when its executive car, the very stylish Fluence, is launched.
However, as the triumvirate of Citroen, Peugeot and Renault has found out in the past, there hasn't always been a great reception for executive French cars over here. But they do make massive secondhand bargains! Renault is saying that the Fluence is its "most Irish car" and is offering "great customer advantages" with a lovely look. We'll see.
Eric Basset was at pains to point out that the quality of the Renault product was improving the whole time and was now "getting closer and closer" to German brands. He did also mention Japanese, but whether he really wants that comparison is a moot point at the moment.
The marque is also offering five years' unlimited warranty, which is only beaten by Kia's seven years over here.
Renault will also start rolling out an electric car range next year.
I liked the Renault team. They weren't too in your face and seemed to know what they were talking about. In terms of selling cars, they have certainly cut the mustard. I hope they are here for the long haul. The Renault brand and its enormous number of past and present customers deserve a bit of settled confidence.