Renault is considering launching a new premium brand, provisionally called ‘Initiale Paris’.
If the plan goes ahead, the French firm would build its business around four marques, using Dacia as a value brand, Renault as the mainstream brand and Initiale Paris and Alpine as niche premium and sporting brands, according to French newspaper Les Echos.
The move would echo the creation of Citroën’s successful DS sub-brand and would give Renault a chance to piggyback on the success of French premium luxury goods in the huge Chinese market.
Quoting chief operating officer Carlos Tavares, the paper says a decision on the new plan will be made towards the end of the year.
The ‘Initiale’ name was first used by Renault for a 1995 luxury concept car. This pointed the way to Renault’s ill-fated attempt to launch itself upmarket at the turn of the century, a move that began with the Avantime and the unsuccessful Vel Satis.
Early this year Tavares was quoted as saying that Renault’s premium car would be based on a Mercedes E-class platform and have a Renault-designed body and interior. There’s no news on a source for the longitudinally mounted engines such a car would require, although Infiniti, part of the Renault-Nissan group, currently uses longitudinally mounted Nissan powertrains.
Renault is likely to get access to the current E-class platform, which is due to be replaced by Mercedes’ new modular architecture. The first Mercedes based on the new platform will be the 2013 C-class, suggesting that any new ‘Initiale Paris’ model would not arrive before the first half of 2015.
Mercedes and Renault have a number of ongoing collaborations. The 1.5-litre diesel engine used in the A-class and B-class is French-sourced, and there are plans to build the next-generation Renault Twingo and Smart Forfour on the same platform at Renault’s plant in Slovenia.