Renault UK will swing the axe and kill off four significant models from its range, including the once strong-selling Laguna, next February. The drastic action will account for the complete Laguna range, including the coupe, plus the Wind roadster, both variants of the Modus and Espace and the Kangoo and Trafic passenger versions.
“We have a corporate target to be profitable in all the countries that Renault sells cars and that demands tough action in the UK,” says the company.
The UK operation is understood to have been loss-making for a number of recent years, possibly back to 2006.
Interestingly, the cutbacks only affect the UK — all other European markets will continue to sell their existing ranges — even though markets like Spain and Italy are hugely down in 2011.
The move will also clear resources and marketing funds for a major push in electric cars in 2012. Renault will introduce the Twizy urban runabout, the Zoe supermini and Fluence EV to the UK next year, although the Zoe won’t be in dealers until autumn.
It also makes a successful launch of the new Clio in 2012 absolutely vital. Like all of Renault’s models, the Clio no longer rides high in its segment and sales in 2011 have subsided to 21k units, a huge 10k drop compared to 2010.
‘We’re not dwelling on what’s happened, we’ve got some very important cars and launches in 2012 that make it a very significant one for us,’ says Renault.
Around a third of the mainstream dealers among the 200-strong network will also be shut, including some of the biggest 23 metropolitan sites owned by Renault.
Some struggling dealers have twinned their sites with other marques, some of them Kia, to keep the doors open and some of these are understood to be under threat.
Launching a consumer fightback from February, Renault will beef-up its standard aftersales package, including four-years/100k mile warranty, four-years/48k servicing and four-years roadside assistance. Facelifted Megane and Scenic models are also new next year.
While the bold axeing of models should be applauded, it is also a real sign of the pressure that mid-market brands like Renault are facing from premium makes pushing down and economy brands pushing up in their traditional territory.
Renault is effectively throwing away a potential 8k or so sales next year, although 2012 has already been grim. Renault has shed 32k cars, subsiding from 95k in 2010 to 63k this year.
The strategy to concentrate on profitability has come straight form the top in France and new COO Carlos Tavares, who took over in July and ordered a review of its business.