Renault celebrates success as future challenges beckon

  • Strongest, most versatile product offering ever
  • Close focus on technology, efficiency and the environment
  • Product range epitomises value and quality
  • Service excellence and superior after-sales support

Renault South Africa’s display at the Johannesburg International Motor Show epitomises growth and future prospects.  Starting off as an importer of a limited vehicle range, Renault SA now locally manufactures and imports a comprehensive line-up of models, while offering its growing customer base access to latest-generation technology and safety.

“Our product offering is among the most up-to-date on the local market,” says Xavier Gobille, managing director of Renault SA. “We have launched no less than 18 new models since 2008, and we are continuing that momentum into the future.”

While the full vehicle range is on display at JIMS, the focus on the Renault stand is on several newcomers, some of which are being previewed ahead of local availability in 2012.

The new Koleos is one of the crowd-pullers, and is due for launch in SA early next year. Thoroughly revised, this versatile crossover retains its impressive all-terrain capabilities.

Another JIMS first is the GT Line version of Renault’s glamorous Mégane Coupé Cabriolet. Powered by a highly efficient, new-generation 1.4 TCe turbocharged engine, the CC also features the largest panoramic glass roof in its segment.

“The Mégane CC GT Line adds a distinctive measure of style and exclusivity to the Mégane range, while also expressing the way technology can simplify the life of the driver to allow the sheer pleasure of motoring experience to come to the fore,” Gobille says.

Renault’s return to the light commercial vehicle market has been eagerly awaited and signals a further expansion of the brand’s appeal. The Kangoo Express made its local debut only months before JIMS, while the Renault Trafic celebrates its release at the show.

“These two new Renault LCVs have been designed to help businesses carry essential loads in safe and efficient vehicles with cargo capacity of up to 6,0m3,” Gobille explains.

“Our objective is to tops as far as affordable vehicle ownership is concerned. This evidenced by our industry-leading five-year/150 000 km warranty, our strong focus on parts pricing, and the best-in-class diesel consumption achieved by the new Trafic,”

Both the Kangoo Express and the Trafic feature bold new styling cues, and link a high level of standard equipment to competitive pricing.

Visitors to JIMS will also be able to see the updated Renault Scénic. The new range was launched locally at the end of September. The model on display at the Renault stand also previews a new, high-efficiency turbodiesel engine, due for release in 2012.

Fitted with this new Energy 130 dCi powerplant, the latest Scénic won the 2011 Next Green Car award – further proof of Renault’s global focus on high-efficiency engine technology.

A focus on energy optimisation

“Renault enjoys a leading position in Electric Vehicle technology, and our continuing efforts to reduce the consumption and emissions of our vehicles,” Gobille explains.

“Renault is strongly committed to the development of electric vehicles, and we will be the first auto manufacturer in the world to offer a range of ZE electric vehicles, including the Kangoo, Fluence, Twizy and Zoë.”

Gobille explains that, as is the case with many other countries around the world, SA is not yet ready to support an EV range. “But the Renault Nissan Alliance started the process of planning with a variety of public and private sector stakeholders in SA some years ago, as their participation and co-operation is required when launching an electric vehicle.

“Underscoring our two companies’ commitment to the environment, the Alliance will be participating together – for the first time in South Africa  – at this year’s UN Framework convention on climate Change (COP17),  to be held in Durban in November.”

For now, the focus will be on reducing CO2 emissions by introducing smaller, more efficient engines that borrow heavily from Renault’s championship-winning Formula One technology.

“This allows us to combat CO2 emissions, and its impact on global warming, by significantly improving the efficiency of both our petrol and turbodiesel engines.”

Renault’s vast experience in Formula One stretches back over 34 years, giving it access to an unprecedented depth of technological capability. “While our RS27 F1 engine should earn Renault its 10th constructor’s title this weekend, the real victory is the way that advanced technology is finding its way into our production drivetrains to the benefit of our customers, and the urgent need for eco-responsible products.”

Gobille says the award-winning Energy 130 dCi engine, due for release in the Scénic next year, is a telling example of how new, clean technology can benefit motorists.

“This compact, highly efficient turbodiesel engine produces 96 kW and 320 Nm from a capacity of just 1,6 litres, and its high technological content includes braking energy recovery, stop/start functionality and reduced friction, while the engine block’s square architecture is directly derived from our F1 programme.”

Renault’s growing focus on highly advanced small-capacity, high-efficiency engines was underlined at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, where the company unveiled a 1,2-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine. This 115 TCe unit also features F1-derived technical solutions and has been earmarked for release in SA.

The availability of latest-generation technology, together with the brand’s growing model range locally, and its progression from importer to manufacturer status, are some of the core reasons behind the Renault brand’s growing strength in SA.

Changes at Renault SA since the 2008 Johannesburg International Motor Show

“The changes since the last Johannesburg International Motor Show in 2008 are quite dramatic, Gobille points out. “Our model range has undergone a vast expansion, with a flurry of new model introductions since 2009.

“The locally produced Sandero, previewed at the previous show, has posted 13 000 sales since launch, and has also become the value ambassador for the brand. In fact, Renault and value have become synonymous with our products offering high spec levels across the board.

This is reflected in the brand’s growing popularity: in 2010, sales were up an impressive 19,3 percent, making Renault the country’s ninth largest brand.

“An important element of our growth is the increasing awareness of the quality of our products,” Gobille says. “Our warranty costs have dropped by 80 percent since 2008, while dealer service has greatly improved over the same period.

Renault placed second out of 37 manufacturers in the recently released 2011 NADA awards, having achieved a silver award in 2009 and 2010, with the gold ranking in 2011. Parts pricing and availability, which is a key indicator of customer service, has also seen impressive gains, with a 95 percent parts fill rate achieved.

“Of course, none of this would have been possible without a strong team. The Renault staff is motivated and dedicated to achieving success, and the results speak for themselves,” Gobille concluded.