Laguna progamme brought to abrupt end as financial crisis deepens

Renault is poised to scrap the next-generation Laguna and could virtually pull out of the large car market altogether, senior company sources have revealed.

Renault's Sandouville - which current builds the Laguna, unsuccessful Vel Satis executive hatchback and the ageing Espace MPV - will start building commercial vehicles as well by 2011.

By then its expected that the Vel Satis and Espace will have been phased out. And although Laguna production will continue alongside the commercial vehicles, it will not be replaced when it dies, probably by late 2011.

Last autumn Renault announced that it had suspended development work on its future large cars, including the next generation Renault Espace.

The company indicated that it wanted to reassess the concepts in light of market moves towards smaller, more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Read more about Renault's financial downturn

Renault chief Carlos Ghosn said: "We will have to adapt to new market conditions, re-think individual mobility and adapt to the new trends. But we also think [in the medium to long term] that the oil price will remain high and there will be increased environmental concerns."

However, Renault has not prospered in the large car market in recent years and sales of the newly facelifted Laguna have been much slower than Renault predicted.

Renault sources told Autocar that the new Samsung SM5, which will be launched in December in its home market of Korea, is likely to be rebadged as a Renault and offered for sale in Europe, effectively replacing the Laguna and Vel Satis.

However Renault sources indicated that they do not expect significant demand for the new SM5 (which is based on a large Nissan front-drive platform) in Europe.

Renault owns 80 per cent of Samsung, which also builds the Koleos SUV.

At a press conference in Paris, Ghosn suggested that the new car market might "permanently change" after the global recession ended.

Read Hilton Holloway's blog on the current situation at Renault

Hilton Holloway

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