PARIS –SA, whose sales are down 11.8% in Western Europe during a year in which it has had no new products, uses the Paris auto show here to try to persuade customers to wait until next year to purchase their next vehicle.
Chairman Carlos Ghosn reveals production-ready concepts of two future products critical to the auto maker’s future: the replacement for the 14-year-old Twingo and the Koleos compact cross/utility vehicle, Renault's first.
The Twingo, which originally was scheduled to be introduced this year, was delayed by Ghosn over a question of style and profitability. Because it is based on the former Clio II platform, it will have carryover parts to help keep the cost low.
Ghosn says the Twingo Concept is 90% true to the production car that will be presented at Geneva in March and go on sale next summer.
The Twingo will introduce Renault’s new 1.2L TCE100 engine. Boosted by a turbo, the gasoline engine produces 100 hp while emitting less than 140 g/km of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of more than 40 mpg (6 L/100 km).
The Koleos is the second concept vehicle of that name. The first, an attractive fullsize CUV, toured the auto show circuit for several years after its first appearance in 2003, preparing Renault customers for the idea of a utility vehicle.
The latest Koleos, which will arrive in summer 2008, will be built by Renault Samsung Motors Inc. in South Korea as a platform mate toMotor Co. Ltd.’s next-generation X-Trail CUV.
Last February, Ghosn promised 26 new products from Renault by 2009, and the first is announced here by Luc Alexandre Menard, president of Renault's Dacia brand.
The Dacia MCV, a 7-seat station wagon, will be built at Automobile Dacia SA’s home plant in Pitesti, Romania, at the rate of 60,000 units annually.
Menard says the Dacia subsidiary already has built 330,000 entry-level Logan sedans in the last two years and predicts the station wagon version quickly will find its audience.
The sedan has "proved popular in the countries for which it was initially designed,” he says, “those where customers have a very practical view of the automobile. As their resources are limited, their chief concerns are affordability, reliability and spaciousness."
The next Logan body style, six are anticipated in total, will be a light commercial vehicle to launch in 2007. The capital investment for the MCV and LCV was €100 million ($127 million), while development cost was €150 million ($190 million).
Dacia MVC sales begin in Romania in October, followed by Bulgaria. Other European countries, including France and some African and South American markets, will get the station wagon starting in January.
The Nepta concept, a 4-seat convertible, revealed to the press earlier in September, "shows our will to develop a new luxury range for Renault," Ghosn says, renewing his promise to launch eight cars in price segments above €27,000 ($34,000) by 2010. The first will be the Laguna in 2008.
Peugeot Citroenalso are showing concept cars previously unveiled to the media. Automobiles Peugeot filled its stand with 207s, hoping to build sales momentum for a car it desperately needs to hold onto market share.
Peugeot sales are off 3.8% in Western Europe, as sales of the 207 have not covered slippage of the 307 and the failure of the 1007 and 107 to become big hits.
Peugeot General Manager Frederic Saint-Geours introduces the 908RC concept car at the show here, whose V-12 diesel will compete at LeMans next year against Audi's V-12 diesel.
He also reveals the ePure, a fuel-cell concept version of the 207CC. The 207CC production version will be launched at the Geneva show in March.
Citroen General Manager Claude Satinet shows the C4 Picasso here as well as the C-Metisse hybrid concept car. Citroen sales are down 2.5% in Western Europe but up 5.5% globally, primarily due to China.