U.S. return still on the cards for Renault

Renault bosses have hinted at a possible return to the U.S. market as the French carmaker contends with one of the worst sales slumps in its history. Renault’s market share in Western Europe has dropped to 7.7% from the highs of 9.7% in 2005 when current CEO Carlson Ghosn stepped in, and the company’s share prices has fallen almost 55% since then.

While a relaunch in the U.S. would be both expensive and risky, a senior official revealed at last week’s Paris Motor Show that the idea is being considered. Speaking with Dow Jones, Renault’s vice-president for corporate and strategic planning Jacques Verdonck told reporters that the company was considering relaunching in the U.S. on its own. He went on to reveal that Renault would be open to buying Chrysler if its current owner, Cerberus Capital Management, was willing to sell it.

One of the biggest hurdles is that a U.S. relaunch would require the development of at least three new models designed specifically for the market. Volkswagen plans to launch two new sedan models designed for American tastes and pricing expectations, and this is a strategy Renault must replicate, Verdonck explained.

There’s also the issue of establishing a new dealer network, although partnering with an existing network is also an option.

Over the past 12 months, Renault together with Nissan has been reported to be in a number of talks with several U.S. carmakers over an alliance deal. Negotiations between Renault-Nissan and General Motors broke down last year because the two sides couldn’t agree on the value of potential synergies. Forming a U.S. alliance now is even more unlikely given the poor financial state of the Detroit 3 carmakers, Verdonck revealed, but said OEM deals (where the two sides could swap models or components) was still a possibility.

Carlos Ghosn, meanwhile, has previously stated that it is difficult to justify a move into a new market such as the U.S., arguing the company must first ensure the success of its expansion into emerging markets such as India and Russia.

Renault last sold cars in the U.S. in the late 1980s when it owned AMC but withdrew from the market upon selling the brand to Chrysler. It finally closed its Detroit office in 2005.

The French carmaker is not alone its quest to return to the lucrative U.S. market. Alfa Romeo is already confirmed for a U.S. relaunch at the end of the decade, and both Fiat and Peugeot are reported to be considering a similar move.

Deja un comentario