Laurens van der Acker would like Europe’s car buyers to fall in love with Renault. Van der Acker’s job, as Vice President of Renault Corporate Design, is to revive Renault’s design reputation after the gyrations of last decade.
It was a turbulent decade which started with the Avantime-led thrust upmarket and ended with the rather meek and mainstream Megane hatch.
‘Renault is not so loved as it was before. We need to be warm and human, and recently we were possibly too harsh. We need to be more emotional and to be more Latin. I think there was a lack of passion. People fell out of love with Renault, but it took a while for us to work that out. I think people want to like Renault and have fond memories of French cars.’
Today van der Acker and his 370-strong French design team are not only putting the final touches to the new 2012 Clio (described by Acker as ‘a key product’) and the next of the six ‘circle of life’ concepts, but they are also wrestling with the final form of the crucial Laguna and Espace replacements.
Van der Acker admits that the French enthusiasm for la différence can be taken too far - a clear reference to the bustle-backed Megane and angular Vel Satis executive hatchback. All he will reveal about the future of the company’s big cars is that they will err on the conservative side ‘staying within the accepted design codes’ and be ‘fantastically executed’.