DETROIT – Renault SA is not in talks with Ford Motor Co. about a possible acquisition of Volvo Car, says Renault Chairman and CEO Louis Schweitzer.

But bigger investment in Russia is a possibility, the auto maker’s top executive tells Ward’s in an interview here.

Schweitzer: Rumors didn’t start with Renault.

Rumors that Renault and Ford were in talks over Volvo ownership have been circulating for months and hit a new crescendo at the Bologna, Italy, auto show in December. (see related story: Ford to Sell Volvo to Renault?)

Top Ford officials, including Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele, have denied the reports. And Schweitzer also puts the speculation to rest quickly in no uncertain terms.

“They did not come from Renault,” he says of rumors there have been meetings concerning Volvo between he and Ford CEO Bill Ford. “As far as I know, Volvo is not for sale and Renault has expressed no interest in buying them.”

In fact, Schweitzer says Renault plans to stand pat when it comes to acquisitions. Its ownership of South Korea’s former Samsung Motors Inc. and Romania’s Automobile Dacia SA and controlling stake in Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., all acquired over the last four years, give Renault the breadth it needs to compete globally, he says.

“I felt at one point in time that if we wanted to become a global player, we had to do a number of things,” Schweitzer says. “And I believe with Nissan, with Samsung, with Dacia (and) with what we’ve done with the truck business, we have a situation where there is no need to do further acquisitions.”

Renault will make a decision in the first half of 2003 whether to increase its investment in Russia, Schweitzer says. Currently, Renault is assembling Clio-based Symbol cars from semi-knocked-down kits at a joint venture in Moscow. A plan is under study to sink $100 million-$200 million into the operation to increase the amount of work done there. (see related story: Renault Restarts Russian Assembly)

“We have light assembly (there) and we have to make a decision whether we want to have (complete-knocked-down) assembly,” Schweitzer says. “(It is) not an enormous investment.”

Eventually, Russia could become a second production site for the €5,000 ($5,309) emerging-markets car that will be launched at Dacia in late 2004, Schweitzer says.