A report yesterday by the Bloomberg news agency did a very good job of revealing the uncomfortable jam that Renault has got itself into over the last decade.
It’s attempts to clamber out of the mainstream have not only crashed and burned, it seems be inadvertently succeeding at the budget end of the new car market.
At the turn of the century, Renault triggered its plan to move its image away from the mainstream and into something like a French Volkswagen.
It opened its product onslaught with the Avantime, Laguna and Vel Satis. These were followed up by the bustle-back Megane and the Espace.
All of the cars were meant to be unique, polished and upmarket. Chanel rather than Chevrolet. Renault figured that these upmarket big cars would reflect well on the mainstream cars and the company could bridge the pricing gap between it and VW.
This plan, of course, failed. The Vel Satis didn’t sell well, the Laguna was hit by electrical maladies and the Megane sold strongly at first, before falling away.
The Vel Satis, Espace and Laguna are all based on the same basic platform and built at Renault’s Sandouville plant. The Vel Satis died last August, the replacement for the Espace was cancelled in 2008 and the Laguna is selling at half the rate the company expected.