Friday, June 02, 2006

Infiniti in Europe and the future of Renault

The people at Renault must be very happy these days. For starters there is the success in Formula 1 races. This is not a new thing for Renault, in the 90’s they dominated for several years as engine-supplier. Now they achieve great success developing the whole car. This is one key feature about Renault: if these guys decide on trying to achieve something they usually accomplish it. Another example is passive safety. They decided they would be the best in the business and simply got it. More happiness for Renault? Just check their purchase… when they bought Nissan they got in the business a little jewel: Infiniti. A proper luxury brand with all the usual amenities - V6 and V8 engines, an impeccable record of reliability, some amazing designs (mainly the G-coupé and FX SUV), and most important, RWD platforms. And finally they will be taking advantage of all of this and bring it to Europe. Thank you Mr. Ghosn!

So Renault can now focus on mainstream while pushing Infiniti well into the luxury segment. But Mr. Ghosn made more important decisions. The next models of Renault will have more restrained, elegant and emotional design. Less wacky designs and more emotional appeal. Check out the next Laguna III for the first iteration in this new philosophy. Typically Renault has been the most avantgarde and adventurous brand, as opposed to Peugeot that filled the classical and elegant area. In a political context, Renault was left-wing and Peugeot would be moderate-right. Now Renault will do what Blair and the Labour-party did in the UK. They will advance to the conservative side. PSA people need to be worried about this. And they also need to be worried because they don’t have a luxury brand. My advice for Peugeot: make a very good and serious offer for Jaguar. Really do your best to try to buy it from Ford. PSA people: do it now or you will regret it later. (B-plan: if this fails try to buy Saab while it still is a sort of premium brand).

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