According to an article in Auto-Industry-Digest, Renault has performed an about-turn on its brand strategy as it tries to curb declining sales and under-utilisation of its factories. Renault now wants to find a niche somewhere between premium and mainstream brands. Renault has Dacia as a ‘smart buy’ brand to fill in at the lower end of the market, leaving itself clear to try to shift its image closer to that of Volkswagen. Renault also intends to add more diversity to its range.
Renault has recently launched the fourth-generation Clio as the staple of its range and will soon begin filling in niches, starting with a small Clio-based crossover early next year. A ‘cargo’ version of the Twizy electric quadricycle with extra storage space is also likely to appear in 2013.
However, Renault will use the quietness of electric cars as its main sales weapon when it introduces the Zoe, a battery-powered small hatchback, to the UK next year.
The French company already has three electric vehicles on sale in the UK – the mid-sized Fluence saloon, the scooter-like Twizy and a Kangoo van – and has been stressing advantages such as low operating costs to try to sell them. But with electric vehicle sales way below expectations so far, the Zoe is seen by Renault as the model which could make a breakthrough, so getting the sales message right is crucial.
Global sales and marketing director Stephen Norman, in an interview with Headlineauto, has said:
“When we launch in the UK the main message is going to be one of silence.
“We’re not pleased about the level of sales, but we are the European market leaders and, with Nissan, world leaders. The principal reason the market is not expanding more quickly is that the infrastructure is arriving more slowly than we thought.
“We also have work to do on our marketing communications. But what I don’t see in any market is a resistance to electric vehicles on a cultural level. We haven’t been able to communicate clearly enough with potential customers about what these vehicles are capable of doing.
“We have to get people into a position where they say ‘Why would I not have a Zoe?’”