Renault committed to expanding upscale offerings with Initiale Paris, CFO says

Renault plans to reveal an Initiale Paris production model at the Paris auto show in October that may be based on a crossover concept shown in Frankfurt last year, observers say.
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BRUSSELS -- Renault is committed to expanding its upscale offerings with its Initiale Paris badge, Dominique Thormann, the carmaker's Chief Financial Officer, said on Wednesday at the Automotive News Europe Congress.

With its Initiale Paris line, Renault aims to attract affluent customers who are looking for aspirational cars but who find the models from premium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz too expensive.

The program was championed by former Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares, and his departure for PSA/Peugeot-Citroen has led to speculation that the program could be shelved. Tavares' goal was to make Initiale Paris a subbrand, an aim he is now applying to Citroen's DS brand at PSA.

Thormann said that Renault plans to reveal an Initiale Paris model at the Paris show in October. It is likely to be a production version of the Initiale Paris crossover concept shown at last year's Frankfurt auto show, observers say.

“Initiale Paris it not a stop and go approach,” Thormann said. “We’ve been rebuilding a more premium feel in a certain number of limited vehicles, approaching it on technologies and in segments that we control and can understand. You’ll get a good example of that in the Paris show in October."

Renault will move much more significantly into the C and D segments in the next wave of product after the introduction of the Twingo this fall, Thormann said. In 2015 and 2016, the company will be launching larger vehicles developed for the Chinese market with a more upscale consumer in mind, he added.

“We will be adding significantly to our lineup,” the CFO said. “You should see a significant renewal of bigger cars in the coming year.“

Renault’s Initiale Paris brand will compete with Ford’s own upmarket offering, the Vignale, and the DS subbrand. The companies are wagering they can lure consumers to more luxurious versions of their basic models by adding extras like leather interiors and more comprehensive service agreements.

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