PARIS -- Car buyers across Europe are able to buy Renault's new top-of-the-line model, the Latitude, except in Germany.
Renault offers a leasing-only package for the Latitude in Europe's biggest market, where the sedan faces tough competition from entry-level models from German premium brands, as well as from mid-sized offerings from volume brands such as Volkswagen, Ford and Opel.
“Gaining market entry by offering a model for leasing only will serve as an experiment for Renault,” a company spokesman said.
Customers can lease the Latitude in Germany starting at 400 euros a month including maintenance costs. In European countries outside Germany, buyers can purchase the Latitude outright. In France the sedan sells for between 32,500 euros and 45,000 euros.
Renault is positioning the Latitude as its flagship model following last year's phase-out of its poor-selling Vel Satis.
Unlike the Vel Satis, whose quirky design failed to attract buyers in Europe's luxury market, the Latitude has a classic sedan look .
Fleet market targeted
The Latitude is aimed at the company car market, which accounts for a high number of sales in the large-car segment, said Matthieu Galipeau, Renault's product manager for the Latitude. “It is geared toward executives who seek comfort and driving performance,” Galipeau told Automotive News Europe.
The target market among individual buyers is mature couples who want a large executive car that reflects a certain socio-economic position without seeming pretentious, Galipeau said. “They don't want a show-off car but a model that reflects their higher social class. They want the driving performance and the size of a high-end sedan, but do not want to be seen driving around in a Mercedes or Audi.”
The company-car target market is slightly larger than individual car owners, but the split is close to 50-50, Galipeau said.
Renault has lowered the price of the Latitude, compared with the Vel Satis' price, which was close to that of German premium models, Galipeau said. The Latitude will compete in price against the Citroen C5, Peugeot 508, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, but not the Opel Insignia, which retails for a lower price. The Latitude also sells for a price higher than the automaker's smaller Laguna mid-sized car, Galipeau said.