Q&A: Renault fights to defend its German market share

Renault will defend its position as Germany's top-selling foreign brand by using aggressive pricing, says its Germany boss Jacques Rivoal.

Rivoal talked with Automobilwoche's Pia Krix.

Renault's market share was always above 6 percent in the past few years. Now it is only 5.3 percent. What happened?

The main reason is that dealers have reduced the number of day registrations by 20,000 units compared with last year. On top of that, they have cut the number of short-term registrations by about 15,000 vehicles. I expect around 180,000 new registrations this year and a market share of approximately 5.4 percent.

Why are you reducing the number of day registrations so drastically?

Renault invented this as a means to promote sales 10 years ago. However, it does not work as well as it used to because we are being copied too much. When the economic situation is difficult, practically all carmakers work with day registrations.

At the beginning of 2004 your aim was to achieve a 7 percent market share in Germany. Have you underestimated the consequences of your new sales policy?

This year is a transition year for Renault. It was already clear at the beginning of the year that we would be changing the sales strategy. However, we misjudged the economic trends. Economic experts assumed that the overall market would be significantly bigger. And, besides, we lost a major contract with the German Federal Post Office at the beginning of the year. That was an order of 5,000 cars that Volkswagen snatched away from us by making an extremely aggressive offer.

What is your goal for 2005?

It is Renault Germany's aim to be the strongest foreign brand.

But you have been for 14 years

Nowadays it is a challenge to defend this position. It is an ambitious goal in a market where a premium brand such as Mercedes-Benz sells more cars than a volume manufacturer such as Opel.

How are you planning to push your sales again?

We have changed our sales strategy completely. New products such as the Clio and aggressive pricing are the most important elements. We also want to increase the number of special models significantly. We hope that in the future, special models will represent 80 percent of Clio sales and 50 percent of Scenic sales.

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