This time, it is the moment of truth: after more than nine months self-imposed group, Carlos Ghosn casts his cards Thursday Boulogne-Billancourt and promote its strategic orientations for the next three years. 130,000 Employees are already warned: this February 9 will be "the first day of implementation of the plan", insisted the shock pattern. Time, because since last spring, where he succeeded Louis Schweitzer, Renault commercial and economic situation had sharply deteriorated. Its CEO even did not need to fill the table to join the last undecided. The wind was violently turned to the point that the group to the diamond, who was head in 2004 among its European peers (PSA, Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler) in terms of operational, to more than 5 margin, risk close walking this year (between 2.5 and 3), according to analysts, who expect nothing for 2006.
The demiurge who already saved Nissan was soon pointing the weaknesses of the French manufacturer. His plan, he said this a few days, since the snow-covered Davos summits, will "be essentially to explain how strengthening and enriching the supply of products." "It is to strengthen the presence of Renault on the segments where it is strong, and from the onslaught of new segments. As Carlos Ghosn is well aware that existing gaps reside more in the range that in industrial organization or potential overmanning. However, despite the power of belief of the new boss, the leaders of the Group should arm themselves for patience and face the long tunnel of 2006.
Bleak year for concessions
Not a single new model to showcase in the concessions this year! Since Carlos Ghosn decided to push the new version of the Twingo 2007 to prepare, by the inimitable jargon House, "a more robust vehicle in terms of its economic-centred equation best possible on the expectations of consumers", the vendors know that they will be the large back. "A trader is hungry developments, which are synonymous with visitors and more in concessions, and easier work." "The year will be difficult, as it was 2005", summarizes René Cédat, President of the Group of the Renault dealerships. "I do not have the memory of such white year in the history of the group", said Gerard Blondel, central delegate CFE - CGC. The only occasions to create a little commercial animation will be a few "special series" and the light textbook mid-life of the Mégane sedan (this month), space (in March) and then the Scénic minivan in the fall. Fortunately, the dealers to the diamond (whose profitability has fallen into the hexagon to 0.69 of their turnover as a result of the war of discounts) can take advantage of the rise in the Clio 3 plan. Output last October and with a beautiful portfolio of orders, it still showed all its potential, while waiting for the marketing of a large rival Peugeot 207, in April.
Vacuum announced is all the more worrying as it follows the brutal 2005 stall, particularly accentuated in the second half. Renault makes 75 of its sales and the bulk of its profits in Europe, region where sales (excluding Dacia and utilitarian) plunged 5.6 last year, in a stable market ( 0.2). Better results out of the old Continent ( 11.4 in volume) are not sufficient to redress the bar. "The problem is that many negative points combine, there is not in Renault element damper, as might be the Modus," commented Philippe Barrier, analyst at SG Securities.
In the world, all models regress over 2004, apart from the Modus, whose results are hardly significant. In France, the second national Builder lost in a single year all market share in browse in the four previous years, notes Credit Switzerland First Boston. It was sufficient that the mark could limit unprofitable rental or Government sales to have weaknesses appear at the big day.
Citroën, innovative competitor
The launch of the Megane 2 Fort and Scénic 2, Renault has experienced in 2004 a very preliminary round top, which allowed him to sell its vehicles at the desired rate and enjoy a good "mix-price". This virtuous circle hardly lasted. The decline of the mark owes much to the Megane family which, according to Carlos Ghosn, represents 60 of the operational profit. The sedan, exit end of 2002, version significantly more suffered that declination Scénic, helped in his career with the version 7 seater. In total, the family of the segment "M1" of Renault retreated year increased from 15.6 in France, its market of choice, either 34.900 cars lost. "The degradation of our performance on M1 is the object of our attention in view of its financial consequences", can be readin a recent internal note of branch France.
Yesterday innovative with its voluntarily excessive Stern, Megane was quickly relegated to the background by other recent models such as the Citroën C4, Toyota Corolla, Golf Plus, or even the BMW 1 series. In a certain way, to designer Patrick Le Quement style bold perhaps shortened expected longevity of the model. "What makes the Renault damaging, it is the arrival of a second French brand in the category of the"innovative": Citroën", the view Christophe Cauvy, consultant of the cabinet of prospective The Thinking Box, just to conduct a study in five European countries to probe the tastes of customers. Now, he said, "buy a"French small"with an iconoclastic style not so simple to acquire a Renault." PSA has reinvented Citroën, as a frontal attack on the area of jurisdiction of Renault. The new positioning of BMW also poses problems to the innovative, especially at Renault.
The other weak point of the range, be it across, is the Laguna sedan. A heart wrenching for the brand, to the extent where this car, acclaim press, has settled its early career technical failures. On this the family sedan segment, declining for three years, conservatism has even changed camp: the daring of the Peugeot 407 pencil kick, then the new Volkswagen Passat early did undermine the career of the model to the diamond. "The car is dependable, but it is too late: on this segment, it is really very hard to go up once the decline began", said Philippe Barrier of SG Securities.
Ghosn plan must therefore, in a very short time, several problems of size. In the highly cyclical nature of the range and excessive dependence on the Megane in France will call a strong response: Renault will still expand its range, multiply "niche" models and variants beginning with the "crossovers", these models at the intersection of several silhouettes, the image of Mercedes class R or the Nissan Murano. "Entering a new era, says Gerard Blondel, the CFE - CGC." It is probably the end of the models of mass, which will make room for several "niches" of different appearance. Life vehicles, securely on six or seven years, will probably shorten and renewals to accelerate.
This strategy implies flexibility that the CEO will impose on all levels: Organization, costs, process. Engineers were also not expected the green light from February 9. Products plan of Renault would provide, nothing that for 2007, 7 new models! Carlos Ghosn has already applied this doctrine at Nissan: "from time to time, there is a failure." "But when you start 28 products and wipe that two failures, the bottom of the history, it is a huge profitability", launched to its engineers last June.
Some, however, are not from talk of a mess. When competitors developed the 4 4 seen today in the streets, Renault is lost on his project of "coupéspace" Avantime, resounding failure. Double bad luck, the diamond mark a nearly tumbled down very early on the niche of the "crossovers" and large recreational vehicles, with its high Vel Satis, which was another failure from 2002, because of their design. "The concept, they had, but execution was bad," notes Philippe Barrier. As to the true 4 4, "it is ten years that we asked... While we had it before, regrets René Cédat: at the time where Renault had AMC and Jeep brand, the counters with the Cherokee and the Renegade had been detonated." More recently, Renault has pushed the idea of rebadger a model ally Nissan as the X-Terra, which would have at least had the advantage of speed.
Result, the recurring problem of the legitimacy of Renault on the top of range remains whole. For the moment, Carlos Ghosn applies the Coué method: "It Renault gets rid of its complexes." Is it able to establish themselves at the top of range Of course! ", martelait the summer last, aware of the unparalleled profitability of these products. Only after the "four" of the Vel Satis (7900 sales last year), the approach segment must be revamped. In this field, cooperation with Nissan is almost zero. "Renault could very well benefit from technical assistance from Nissan, and gain for example home transmissions four-wheel drive, developed for the United States," said one observer. Another asset to: recent progress towards quality and reliability vehicles type Clio or Modus, begin to be read in client surveys. But, as demonstrated last year, France, the indignities of the record of the "crazy speed regulators", the image of a mark is sometimes as fragile as a House of cards.