Renault’s plans are to position itself in the middle of a Y-shaped strategy, which has budget brand Dacia down the bottom while Alpine and a new premium brand sit above.
Speaking to the media at the Geneva Motor Show today, Renault’s head of design, Laurens Van den Acker, further emphasized the company’s chief operating officer, Carlos Tavares’ previous statements that two additional brands are in the works.
Alpine has already been confirmed as the group’s sports brand coming in 2016, but the premium brand, likely to be called “Initiale Paris” to start with, is yet to be officially confirmed.
The strategy will mimic that of Volkswagen’s which itself sits in the middle of the group’s range with Skoda and SEAT below and Audi and Porsche at the top (Volkswagen also owns Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley).
“Half the money that’s made in the car industry is made in the premium [segment], so if you don’t have a premium brand you’re not exposed to this profit. If you say we are not doing premium, it’s ok, but you’re robbing yourself of potential profits” Acker said.
A premium brand for Renault could potentially borrow from Infiniti, which acts as a high-end product lineup for sister brand Nissan. However, it’s unlikely that Infiniti and Renault’s premium brand would share many characteristics.
Acker admitted that to bring a premium brand into the market would take a considerable amount of effort and time, something that is unlikely to be a simple process.
“We are planting the seeds for the premium adventure, first step is a label, second step is a special lineup of vehicles and the third step is a proper brand with its own cars, but you’re talking 10-15-20 years.”
Some have suggested that Renault would base its initial range of premium cars on Mercedes-Benz platforms, since the two companies have numerous collaborative agreements in process.
Renault’s 'Initiale Paris' name was first used in 1995 on a concept car (above) and marked the way for the French company to take itself upmarket with the Avantime and Vel Satis, both of which failed to make a significant impact.
Next year the French company will launch a Renault Clio Initiale Paris as it begins its step by step process to bring about a premium brand to the market.