Special Coverage

Paris
Auto Show

PARIS – Renault SA launches its revamped Megane family at the Paris auto show here with a 2-pronged design approach.

A racy coupe with windows that recall the original Koleos concept car replaces the traditional 3-door Megane, while the 5-door Megane is a conservative evolution – less daring than the generation it replaces.

The Megane is the heart of the Renault range, and the Scenic compact minivan has been a key source of profit for the auto maker.

The new Meganes will offer four diesel options, with 90- and 110-hp versions emitting less than 120 g/km of carbon-dioxide.

A 1.4L turbo-gasoline engine, to be introduced in spring 2009, makes 130 hp and 140 lb.-ft. (190 Nm) of torque, with better fuel efficiency than the current 1.6L diesel mill, Renault says.

Despite current economic conditions, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, on hand at the show here, expresses confidence in the auto maker’s continued growth. In Europe, Renault sales fell 1.4% through August in an overall market that is down 3.9%.

At the same time, Ghosn seems to be preparing investors for the possibility that mid-term profit and volume goals may not be met.

“Quality is the only pledge in Renault Commitment 2009 which is unaffected by the business environment,” he says.

Renault has raised vehicle prices to cover rising material costs, will cut 4,000 jobs worldwide and has reduced its research and development budget.

Meanwhile, Ghosn reiterates the news that Renault and alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will launch Nissan electric vehicles in Japan and the U.S. in 2010 and Renault EVs in Israel, Denmark and Portugal in 2011. The first Renault EVs likely will be variants of an existing vehicle, possibly the Megane, but the auto maker has said it will offer an electric-only model in 2012.

Renault also debuts at the show an electric version of the small Kangoo BeBop, which draws inspiration from the original Kangoo concept that bowed at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.