Wild-Ass Rumour Of The Day: Renault Considering Return To The US?

wild ass rumour of the day renault considering return to the us

Thought, you’d seen the last of Renault in North America? Well, think again and this time, they’re bringing their big guns! The Wall Street Journal [sub] reports that Gerard Detourbet, head of Renault’s entry level division is contemplating selling their low cost cars in South East Asia and North America. “We’re looking at Southeast Asia closely,” he said “We ended up not going there for a variety of reasons. But the idea is that we won’t remain absent from that territory.”

The idea of going to North America will depend of the success of the Dacia Duster, the new low budget SUV (Renault is planning 330k units of annual production). Within Europe and North Africa the Duster will wear the Dacia badge with pride, but outside of those markets, the Duster will wear a Renault badge. This is particularly peculiar, because, like many analysts, I thought Renault would come back to North America via their Japanese partner, Nissan, but it appears I could be wrong. Renault’s future in North America is, according to Monsieur Detourbet, is a low budget car designed for developing markets, with a Renault badge. Bonne Chance!

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  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Dec 10, 2009

    Yes - that was the Renault 16 one of the forerunners of the modern hatch concept and probably one of the 10 most influential cars of the post WW2 era. Not because of the unequal wheelbase ;) I am a bit surprised at the sentiments being expressed here at TTAC - basically for a lot of people time seems to stand still and if the French made unreliable cars in the 70s and early 80s, that must continue being so. It is similar to many European's attitudes that Japanese cars rust badly and are hard to acquire spares for. There are good reasons why the French car industry, in spite of many proclamations of their early demise in the 90s are in fairly ruddy health compared to many competitors. In the mid / late 90s they almost doubled their productivity in 3 years and by 1998 or so surpassed German car manufacturers in that respect. Renault, in particular, managed quite a publicity coup by being the manufacturer with the best safety record for its lineup in new cars in Europe - and that includes all the premium and Swedish players, too - which so pride themselves on those aspects. There is a lot of sour grapes as to how they managed to trick the system to achieve this but they did. Renault over the last 10 years or so came to completely dominate the affordable performance market in Europe and the RS Clios and Meganes are now the (unmatched) benchmarks in the industry. Citroen has been transformed from a practically dead brand to a pretty significant player in Europe, too, with cars, that are perhaps not particularly fun to drive but are in many ways the equivalent of a Toyota in that they are the perfect appliance - something the majority of the market is looking for. Dacia is perhaps one of the most significant successes in the recent automotive history. All in all, the preconceptions from 20-30 years ago are a bit naff - or would the readers harping about the unreliability of the R5 in the 80s also refuse to get into any Toyota or Honda, because one can hear them rust away and because they are so tiny compared to the cars from the big 3 and their first attempts to enter the US market were plagued by horrible unreliability?

  • Another_pleb Another_pleb on Dec 10, 2009

    Hear, hear. Renault have come a long way since the 80s. If they are sensible and play to their strengths of comfort, space and safety then they could do alright. The unequal wheelbase was a common feature on many French front-wheel drive cars with torsion-beam rear suspension. On the Renault 4, Citroen Visa etc. the difference was only about 1 1/2 inches so probably not terribly significant in terms of turning effort. However, it did have the effect of giving the cars 4-wheel independent suspension, something that isn't even standard on all cars some 50 years later.

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Dec 10, 2009

    Here's the real reason Renault turned thumbs down on the Penske deal to supply cars for Saturn. First Dacia as bargain basement Renaults, then Samsungs at a higher price sold as Renaults. The new Samsungs are based on Renaults now, rather than older Nissans. The Dacia warranted a story in the Wall Street Journal about it's cars when they entered the Canadian market in the 80s. They were nightmares apparently and owners would leave keys in them with the windows down over night and no one would steal them they were so bad.

  • Threeer Threeer on Dec 10, 2009

    I wouldn't mind seeing Renault re-enter the American marketplace, but I suspect it wouldn't be overly successful here. Many fond memories of old Renaults from growing up in Germany. Our beloved landlord's son in Karlsruhe had an old R4 that he carted me around in. Even at the young age that I was, I loved the horizontal shiftlever! Later, some good friends of ours from the British Scouts up in Gutersloh owned a R16 (with the properly configured right-hand steering wheel!)...I remember how comfortable that old car was, even well into the mid 80s. Drove a new Laguna about two years ago, and actually really liked the way it rode and looked. But hey, what do I know...I still like Opel, too!

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