PARIS - For the first time in decades, Renault is developing a car specifically for international markets.
The sedan version of the Clio supermini will be aimed at emerging markets. Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer said the car will be made in Curitiba, Brazil, and Bursa, Turkey, next year.
It could be produced in Russia, and it could be sold in Spain.
The car will be cheap and robust. It will have less equipment than European Clios, but technology and quality will be up-to-date. It will likely be renamed.
'Renault realized that it cannot simply re-use its European models in order to secure its international growth,' said Pierre Beuzit, Clio project manager.
Renault's program is less ambitious and less costly than the Fiat Palio. Plans call for only one body style and far fewer production sites around the world.
'Louis Schweitzer does not like the comparison with the Palio,' said an insider. 'Neither does he like the concept of a world car.'
The many body styles of the Palio mean production could amount to 1 million units annually. Aspirations for the Clio sedan are more like 200,000. Investment will be around FF2 billion ($330 million).
The Clio will be Renault's second model for overseas expansion, after the Megane.
The sedan decision came well after the Clio program was started.
'The idea arose in late 1996 from Remi Deconinck, the product planning manager. Then the feasibility study started in July 1997,' said Beuzit.
The car will have a 1.0-liter engine, a derivative of the current Renault 1.2-liter gasoline engine for the Twingo. Engines that size make up half the Brazilian market.
'We have not yet decided whether this engine will be made in Brazil or in Europe,' said Beuzit.
To compete, said Beuzit, the cost of production must be 25 percent below the current European-made Clio.