France’s Renault brand will eventually return to the U.S. market, I do predict.
Not any time soon, I will concede. But sooner or later.
To be sure, nobody at the Renault-Nissan Alliance has uttered a word publicly to indicate that this is being planned. And Carlos Ghosn, who runs both Nissan and Renault, has plainly stated that it will not happen.
But sooner or later, you have to assume that it will.
The auto industry moves forward on a big mathematical equation that includes these soft factors: “What is the logical thing to do?” and “What is the daring thing to do?”
Would it be logical for the Renault brand to crowd into the monthly U.S. sales brawl in competition with its cousin Nissan brand? Renault pockets part of Nissan’s corporate profits every year. What logic would it make to do anything that might cut into Nissan’s profits?
Fair enough. But Renault and Nissan compete in Mexico. And you might have missed this, but Nissan rules in Mexico, with more than a 26 percent market share.
They compete in China. They compete in, well, lots of places around the world.
So is it more logical for the Renault brand to continue counting itself out of one of the world’s biggest -- and often hottest -- car markets? And who’s to say the two partners would actually compete? Does Nissan compete with Buick? Does Kia really compete with Subaru?
Alliance partner Mercedes will be helping Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand over the next few years, sharing car and crossover architecture and engines with Infiniti in the U.S. market. The Alliance’s rationale? Mercedes and Infiniti buyers infrequently cross-shop each other’s brand.
So, might it be the daring thing for Renault to do, to return to U.S. consumers after having once tried and not succeeded here?
Well, has there ever been an auto brand that attempted to build a U.S. market, later withdrew, and then came back with a new plan?
Can you say, “Toyota”? Or “Fiat”? Or “Alfa Romeo”?
You can’t win if you don’t play.