- Ergonomics key to owner satisfaction of all models
- Top value for money offering in technology and safety
- Stable resale values in current market conditions
- Dealership-training to implement Renault quality culture
The secret of Renault’s appeal lies not only in innovative designs or racing results, but ergonomic cabins shaped around the passengers. This adherence to ergonomics has led to the South African buyers voting with their feet to give Renault a 5% market share of South Africa’s passenger car market in 2005.
This despite the fact that Renault does not have vehicles in the fast growing SUV or 4×4 segments in South Africa yet.
“People buy cars for their looks, design, value for money and safety,” said Roland Bouchara, who became Managing Director of Renault South Africa in 2003.
Bouchara will take over as MD of Renault UK on November 1, 2006 after leading Renault South Africa’s growth in market share from 3.5% to 5% and improving profitability at Renault’s 56 dealerships. Renault, now under leadership of Dr Jean-Jacques le Goff, aims to have 65 dealers by the end of 2008.
Renault’s designers maintain a long tradition of futuristic looks, from the Renault 4 which remained in production for 31 years, to the first large hatchback introduced in the 60s, to the radically-styled Vel Satis, a saloon hatch from 2003 which Manny da Canha, boss at Amalgamated Motor Holdings and importer of Renaults for Imperial, still prefers to drive as his personal car.
The daring looks hide a lot of space, with even small hatches like the Modus and Twingo setting new industry standards in space-saving and functionality.
“We don’t treat our cars like status symbols, but as mobile extensions of the family room. A lot our buyers are parents, and our interiors are therefore designed to cope with the rough and tumble joys of having children, from easy-to-clean surfaces to drawers for toys and cup holders for any size container,” said Dr. Jean-Jacques le Goff.
While Renault interiors boast the highest number of packing spaces, the excellence in design standards does not stop with the latest plastics and a high cup-holder-count.
Under the hood, the engines are also groundbreaking. As can be expected from the company that patented the first turbo, Renault’s latest turbo designs boast variable blades, which were introduced to in the Megane II.
Variable-tilt blades change the size of the turbo to cancel out the typical turbo boost thresholds, or “lag”, of turbo diesel engines. This 2002 technology helped to earn the Megane diesel South Africa’s Car of the Year title, with German manufacturers are only now introducing bi-turbo technology in an effort to provide the same seamless power-curve of, for example, Renault’s 1,9 dCi engine.
Renault’s value for money offering begins with price, continues with maintenance and ends with high resale values.
Bouchara lobbied eight months to bring the cost of a basket of imported Renault parts down to a level where Renault cars can be competitive against local manufacturers. Where Renault used to be among the most expensive cars to maintain on SA roads, both Bouchara and Le Goff is now proud to cite the latest Kinsey reports which consistently puts Renault among the top three cheapest cars to maintain in each of the three categories measured by journalist Malcolm Kinsey.
While not all Renaults fare equally well on the resale stakes (at least not until their iconic designs become sought after classics), the entry-level Clio provides a text-book case study of how inherently good looks and design help to maintain high resale values.
In 2005, when used car prices started plummeting in SA, resale values of used 2001 to 2005 Clios on sale were on average only 24.5% down on the new prices, compared to the stronger used-car market of 2004, which saw average prices for used Clio’s only 22,59% lower than their new retail prices. (Source: Trans Union’s Mead & McGrouther Auto Dealers Guides.
As for safety, Le Goff assures that Renault cars are as safe as technology can make them, with eight models boasting the highest safety rating from the New Car Assessment Programme in Europe (EuroNCAP).
“The only factor we cannot control yet are human error, but our researchers are already working on ways to use available technology to prevent, for example, a drunk driver from ending up in a ditch with airbag injuries,” said Dr. Le Goff. (Doctorate in Physics)
The only area where Renault South Africa is still working hard to improve customer satisfaction is at dealership level. Renault SA owns 16 of these dealerships, with the balance of the franchises held by SA’s top motor groups, including Imperial, SuperGroup, Barloworld, Combined Motor Holdings and McCarthy.
With both Le Goff and Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault/Nissan Alliance, demanding ultra high standards in customer satisfaction and investment, all dealerships are under pressure to meet Renault’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
“We have had several customer complaints stemming from poor service quality control, and are working hard to train technical staff to maintain Renault’s hard-earned reputation with every job,” said Le Goff.
Francis Guy, Renault SA vice-president responsible for Quality and Service says the message to all employees is that each one can spoil or improve Renault’s relationship with the customer.
“The Renault way is to become the industry benchmark, and we want to set the standard not only in how customers perceive the buying experience, but also the after sales efficiency,” said Guy.
For more information, kindly contact Renault South Africa’s Communications Department:
Vice President: Communications
Tel : +27 11 607 7406
Cell : +27 82 455 9327
Hanlie du Preez
Media Relations Manager
Tel : +27 11 607 7306
Cell : +27 72 942 5511