Louis Schweitzer, Renault president, was interviewed in Rome on 22 May by the Italian automotive business press. The following are Schweitzer's answers edited by Luca Ciferri of Automotive News Europe.
What is Renault's merger priority?
Our priority is to grow, particularly out of Europe. For this reason I do not see for Renault the need of a merger with another major maker. We look for the opportunity to sign specific joint ventures in the new markets we want to enter.
We are very happy with the different types of partners we have around the world, from industrial companies to banks to provinces to cities . . . A big merger maybe could speed up our foreign growth, but it won't substitute for it.
Would Renault merge with PSA?
I have said many times that merging Renault and PSA will be a folie furieuse (crazy madness). I really don't see this as an opportunity.
We already make engines and gearboxes with PSA. In the future we could also merge our research. That is all.
Can the auto industry grow?
It was said that automobiles are mature products for mature markets. This is true for the big, traditional markets - USA, Europe and Japan - which today represent 80 percent of the world market, yet have only 20 percent of the global population. We still have to motorize 80 percent of the world population, and this offers excellent growth prospects.
Will you make a world car?
I do not see a 'world car' good for every type of developing market. We think that countries like Brazil, Argentina, Poland and Turkey today prefer the same models we sell in Europe at the same technological and quality level. By contrast, really developing markets like India require from us a car to compete with locally built Marutis. In other words, a specific, basic product that could be sold at around $4,000-$6,000, compared with the $8,000 of our current small European cars.
Fiat is stronger overseas than Renault.
It is true that, for size and type of vehicles, Renault and Fiat are quite similar. Fiat is stronger than us for internationalization, because they started earlier. We have a more balanced market share in Europe, because it is less dependent on home-market sales.
With Fiat Group we just merged our bus operations, and honestly I was surprised at how fast and how easy the negotiations happened to be.
The arrival of Paolo Fresco (in October, as the new chairman of Fiat Group) will represent a turning point for Fiat Group. His appointment is out of the company tradition and he is a man of strategies.