Any mention of a ‘five-year plan’ – or any ‘insert amount of number of years here plan’ – makes me come over all uneasy.
Why? Just ask Dany Bahar. But why cock up in five years what you can do in four, as anyone who’s watched the excellent football documentary on QPR will testify. And while we’re on that subject, how about a nine-year plan for England to win the World Cup? Bahar could oversee that one, perhaps.
But that’s another story. Tonight I was ready to sharpen the knives after Renault UK’s managing director Ken Ramirez let slip that the firm has implemented a holistic five-year plan due to come to fruition by 2017. So I, with my cynical hat on, was expecting a new model blitz with new sports cars, plans to quadruple sales etc to be at the heart of this plan.
Ramirez’s plan though is a different one. It’s modest, it’s realistic and you really believe it could happen. Ramirez is not mentioning any real nitty-gritty specifics, but stated that the ultimate goal was to lift the company’s market share from the 2.4 per cent it accrued last year, back above five per cent in 2017.
Now remember this is Renault, a firm that took the bold decision to take some medicine at the end of 2011 and axe a whole host of underperforming models from its UK line-up such as the Laguna, Espace, Modus and Wind (remember that one?). Any car maker that takes such a bold step is one which really can look at things objectively, and not feel it has to do something just because it has always done it.
Ramirez admits that Renaults had become a commodity to buyers, bought by buyers from dealers just because it was a Renault and they had always bought them from there.
Now, in a very heartening approach, it’s only interested in products that you want to physically buy and pay decent money for, not because you can get a whopping great discount. The new Clio is at the heart of this, followed by the Captur and a new C-segment crossover in 2015.
These models are key as the Clio sits in the UK’s largest segment, and the other pair are in the fastest-growing segments; there’s no weird or quirky niches Renault is trying to create, or dying segments like the Laguna’s that Renault UK is wanting to target.
So far, so good it seems. Renault’s market share will end the year above three per cent, but remember this includes Dacia for the first time, a firm on course to sell 18,000 units in the UK of Renault’s 70,000-plus overall.
Renault car sales themselves sit at around four per cent higher than 2012 in a market up 10 per cent, not a huge increase but Ramirez said all that growth is from private buyers who aren’t gobbling up huge discounts and are prepared to wait – and pay for – their own bespoke and custom models.
There’s more good news for Renaultsport fans, as Renault has no intentions of doing a Renaultsport version of everything; only a few models will ever be made, so there’s no plans for a hot Captur.
Likewise Dacia, a brand Renault has few ambitions for above its current standing and will continue to handle with care. There’s always going to be a headline-grabbing £5995 or equivalent model in the line-up, said Ramirez.
Which all sounds very sensible. And that’s because it is. “We want to grow our business in the right channels, with high levels of customer satisfaction, and competitive models in the core segments,” said Ramirez. Does Lotus still need a new boss?