When Renault’s training shoe-loving design boss Laurens van den Acker joined the company in 2009, he set to work on implementing a new design philosophy based around the petals of a flower.
Although it might sound pretentious to some, it was actually remarkably easy to understand, and as van den Acker industriously reinvented Renault’s entire model range, the strategy paid off, providing the French manufacturer with a line-up of vibrant and desirable designs.
Now van den Acker and his team are starting that design process again, kicking things off with the stunning Renault Trezor coupé that has been unveiled at the Paris motor show, just as 2010’s DeZir concept signalled the start of the first design cycle.
While the Trezor is a no-limits concept that won’t be turned into a production car (although some elements of its interior and technological capabilities will feature in future Renaults), van den Acker has promised that the next car in the design process will be “a more responsible” creation more closely previewing a production model.
During a design evening ahead of the Paris motor show, Anthony Lo, Renault’s exterior design boss, shed light on how van den Acker’s impact has helped to change the mentality within the company.
Former GM and Mercedes-Benz employee Lo joined Renault in 2010, not long after van den Acker’s appointment.
Incidentally, if you sense more than a hint of the striking Saab Aero X in the design of the Trezor, most pertinently in that interesting forward-opening clamshell ‘door’, it is no coincidence: Lo was part of the GM design team that created the Aero X.
Last night, Lo explained that Renault’s old culture was evidenced in its previous marketing. It was common for adverts to feature images of lower-spec, no-frills models, often on the cheapest steel wheels.
This was because the most important factor was to be able to emblazon the adverts with the low cost of those poverty-spec models as Renault fought a price war with rival manufacturers.
Now, he says, Renault adverts make a different statement, by portraying more luxurious variants of their cars. Little surprise, then, that design has become the number one factor driving car sales for the brand.
Customers have responded well to the change. When it comes to cars such as the new Espace, the stylish MPV-crossover that’s sadly not sold in right-hand-drive, most European customers are choosing the most expensive and well-furnished variants, such as the luxury Initiale Paris trim.
Renault’s design team is full of confidence in both its work and its influence within the company, fighting hard to see its visions for its cars through to production. For example, the fact that the new Scénic is being sold on 20in wheels is a major win for the design team, who successfully argued for the aesthetically pleasing items as standard.
Following up on success is a difficult challenge, but Renault looks to have made a bold first step with the Trezor. If only the design team could somehow persuade their paymasters to put it into production…