Renault SA is looking at bringing its uniquely styled Avantime 2-door minivan to the U.S. market as an Infiniti, Chairman Louis Schweitzer confirms.

In a wide-ranging meeting with reporters outside the Detroit auto show, Mr. Schweitzer also says Renault is interested in buying Samsung Motor Corp. assets, but not the Korean company, itself.

Renault will go cautiously where the Avantime is concerned, Mr. Schweitzer says. The new model, based on the Espace minivan, hits the European market shortly, and if given the go-ahead could be on sale in the U.S. by 2001.

Mr. Schweitzer says he is not sure what volume he would need in the U.S. to make the Avantime viable. "It would depend on what we have to do to adapt it to the U.S. market, what engines we use," he says.

Avantime sales in Europe are expected to total 16,000 annually, he says.

As for Samsung, Mr. Schweitzer says Renault is unconcerned about the amount of debt the Korean company has, because Renault only wants to buy the car operation's assets - chiefly its assembly plant in Pusan - and the brand name. "The plant is quite good, and it was developed with Nissan engineers and built cars based on Nissan products (Maxima)," he says.

If there is to be a deal, it will come in the next two or three months, Mr. Schweitzer says. He says he thinks Samsung could capture 10% of a 1 million-unit Korean market in the short-term.