I’m currently in Paris and have just listened to Renault chief Carlos Ghosn explaining the extent of the company’s sales meltdown.
But after the presentation we managed to have a few quiet words in private with some of Renault’s most senior people.
I asked one whether the company’s plans to reduce its expenditure on research and development meant that it was finally curtains for Renault’s – currently suspended - large-car programme.
His surprisingly honest answer was that Renault’s large-car plant at Sandouville was due to start building commercial vehicles as well by 2011. Oh, and work on replacing the Espace has been suspended after 150m Euros had been spent.
And with that revelation, on a sunny morning in Paris, it looks as if it’s the end of the rue for the big Renault.
Renault had great success with the Espace (introduced in 1982) and the Renault 25 hatch also did pretty well for the company. But now, even a car the size of the Laguna is now seems an oversized and unnecessary part of the Renault range.
Renault seems determined to look back to the days when it built simple, versatile, practical and affordable cars such as the Renault 4 and Renault 12.
The upcoming Grand Scenic – which will be revealed at the Geneva show in March – looks like it will be the biggest mainstream Renault within a couple of years.
Renault has been through an automotive revolution and ‘Le Barge’ has been put to the guillotine.