Renault could seek to establish a high-end brand in Asia ahead of Europe because it believes consumers there are more receptive to the concept.
Chief operating officer Carlos Tavares said the perceptions of the Renault brand in Korea and China were different to those harboured by European car buyers.
Plans for the upmarket brand, which would carry the ‘Initiale Paris’ name, were confirmed by Tavares last summer. Renault believes there could be space for premium cars in its portfolio alongside its regular vehicles, low-price Dacia and the returning Alpine sports car brand, although Tavares warned that such a brand could take up to 25 years to become commercially successful. It will introduce the brand by adding the Initiale Paris name to range-topping versions of the Renault Clio and Espace.
Speaking during a visit to Renault UK’s headquarters yesterday, Tavares explained that one option the company is looking at is building momentum for a premium brand outside of Europe first.
“In Europe, if I say I am going to bring Initiale Paris as a new premium brand from Renault, many people will look at me and they will smile. And then if I do the same thing in Korea or China, the attitude will be a little bit different.
“If we start where there is a burden from the past and there is a penalty where if you are not German, are we really credible? But if we do the same thing in China or Korea, or even Latin America, our credibility is a lot higher because French luxury and elegance is valued a lot more in China than it is in Europe.
“So perhaps we are going to bring the credibility of our premium brand from outside of Europe to install that success within our own region. It is one of the options that we have not decided upon yet.”
Tavares conceded that it is difficult to launch an all-new premium brand from a “standing start”, and compared it with the returning Alpine sports car name.
“I can measure the difference with what we have done with Alpine, because it already has history and awareness. Residual values of an Alpine A110 are better than those of a Ferrari 355, and that tells us a lot about the power of the brand,” he said.
“So where we are trying to relaunch the Alpine brand we are on a rolling start, and where we are trying to bring the Initiale Paris brand step-by-step we are on a standing start. Is it possible? Yes. But does it have to start in Europe? Not necessarily.”