Logan won't stop Renault's slide in Germany

Brand's boss predicts marginal sale of low-cost car

Bruehl, Germany. The launch of the low-cost Logan will not have a significant impact on Renault's slumping sales in Europe's largest market, says Jacques Rivoal, chairman of the Renault Nissan Germany board.

The plan is to sell only 3,000 Logans a year, mainly in eastern Germany.

New registrations of Renault passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Germany fell 19 percent to 181,000 units last year. As a result, its market share fell to 5.2 percent from 6.6 percent in 2003.

Rivoal said he believes that the drop in unit sales is due to low consumer demand.

The Logan medium-sized car, which is built by the Renault's Romanian subsidiary Dacia, will be available in Germany, France and Spain starting in June. It will cost 7,500 euros.

Insiders tell Automobilwoche that the car will be available in Belgium, Italy and Switzerland starting in November and will arrive in Austria starting in February 2006.

Renault's original plan was to sell the Logan only in developing and newly industrialized countries.

But it decided to sell the Logan in western Europe after some dealers in Germany planned to buy the Logan directly in Romania and export it to Germany to compete with new low-cost cars planned by Volkswagen, Toyota and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

Rivoal says the company still must decide how many of the 1,450 Renault sales outlets in Germany will be authorized to sell the Logan.

He said the decision will be made by the end of February.

Rivoal believes dealers will need to sign an additional contract to sell the Logan.

Nissan sales falling

Renault's Japanese alliance partner also slipped in Germany in 2004. Nissan sold 66,500 vehicles in Germany last year, 12.3 percent less than the previous year. It did not introduce any new models in Germany. Nissan's market share slipped to 1.9 percent from 2.2 percent. Nissan Germany boss Rainer Landwehr said his goal is to push the brand's share to 2 percent or above in 2005.

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