The Renault name is written in Mandarin on this F1 race car.
LUCA CIFERRI

Renault uses Formula One to win Chinese buyers

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Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
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Renault is using Formula One to promote its brand in China ahead of the French automaker opening its first car factory in the world's biggest auto market.

Motor race fans watching the F1 race in Shanghai on Sunday will see the Renault logo prominently displayed in Mandarin on Lotus cars. Renault supplies engines to the Lotus team.

The advertising will give Renault a much-needed boost in China, but the automaker still has a long way to go to achieve its target of increasing its Chinese market share to 3 percent.

Opening a joint venture plant in 2016 in Wuhan with an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year will be a good start. It means that Renault can sell locally built vehicles at more competitive prices than its current imports from Korea and Europe.

The plant, which is a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor, will build a new crossover developed for China.

Renault will rely heavily on its alliance partner Nissan for manufacturing staff in China. "We will use a lot of people from Nissan's manufacturing staff in China," Jacques Daniel, CEO of Dongfeng Renault Automobiles told Automotive News Europe last month. The joint venture will use the same suppliers as Nissan, he said.

The Renault-Dongfeng partnership will also harness the experience of Nissan in areas from dealerships to marketing to technology.

The new models for China will be developed at Renault's Guyancourt technical center outside Paris, Daniel said. But in the future, the joint venture will recruit local r&d talent.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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