Renault tests rapid parts delivery program

Renault is testing a system of rapid delivery of spare parts to dealers to defend the profitable aftermarket from competitors.

Renault is implementing its Apollo project in the Bordeaux area in southwest France and in Galicia in northern Spain. It's one of several Renault efforts to secure a piece of the $75 billion spare parts market in Europe.

Renault says automakers control half the aftermarket parts business. But this share is threatened.

The European Commission is considering introducing greater competition in car distribution and servicing by loosening the control carmakers have over dealer parts buying.

Most carmakers acknowledge they earn a substantial proportion of their profit in the aftermarket but decline to be more specific.

"With Apollo, we're telling dealers, 'Concentrate on sales, we take care of logistics,' " said Jacques Chauvet, vice president for Renault's parts and accessories division.

Through Apollo, dealers can receive parts several times a day - saving time, space and the expense of large inventories, Chauvet said.

Renault also intends to increase the number of its own cars that its dealers service, winning back share from independent garages, Chauvet said.

About half of the 20 million Renault cars in Europe are serviced in Renault garages.

The proportion is highest - 70 percent - in Switzerland because of a tight dealer network and the absence of chain repair operations. In the United Kingdom, where there are many independent and chain repair shops, only 40 percent of Renault owners service their cars at Renault dealerships.

Suppliers must improve the quality of electronics equipment sold to automakers because car buyers are unforgiving, Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer said.

"Customers will show more tolerance toward, say, a faulty mobile telephone than toward a faulty car" that's broken down because of an electronics failure, he said.

Because of that, Schweitzer said, "reliability demands for electronics are stricter in the car industry than

in the rest of the electronics industry."

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