Groupe Renault has separated its Renault Sport Technologies performance arm into distinct road and motorsport divisions.
Chairman Carlos Ghosn revealed Renault’s plans overnight at the Technocentre in Guyancourt. The result: Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars.
The new company — headed by Patrice Ratti — is tasked with expanding the international footprint of Renault Sport models, notably into developing markets. Accompanying this will be an increased research and development budget.
By 2018, Renault Sport Cars is expected to have doubled sales volumes compared to the 2014 figure. Part of this will come from developing-market cars, such as the Sandero RS for Latin America.
But the company has also said that it is working on “several projects” to expand its portfolio in Europe and beyond. It’s worth remembering here that Australia is a global top-three player for Renault Sport.
The company has spoken favourably about making a RS version of one of its crossovers, such as the Captur. Those models not deemed fit for the full ‘RS’ treatment might get GT warming-up or GT-Line cosmetic enhancements instead.
Part of this volume expansion will also come from the next-generation Megane RS due in 2016, which will become a five-door-only model (replacing the current three-door-only model). It is also believed the new performer could be equipped exclusively with an automatic transmission, as with the Clio.
Renault Sport Racing, headed by Ghosn confidante Jerome Stoll, will oversee the new Renault Sport Formula One team, plus its ventures in the Clio Cup and Formula E series. There’s also the Renault Sport Academy to find and foster raw talent.
Both Ratti and Stoll will report to a supervisory board headed up by, you guessed it, Carlos Ghosn.
Naturally, the racing development is both a technological source and marketing tool for Renault Sport Cars — why else would Renault spend all those Euros? The company calls its RS models a "bridge" between regular Renault road cars and its race cars.
Renault will use the new structure for two primary functions, it says. Initially, it aims to promote the Renault Sport brand to a wider audience primarily using the Renault Sport Formula One Team and the global audience of F1. Secondly, it will use Formula E and racing activities such as the Clio Cup to showcase the image and design of other aspects of the Renault range such as electric vehicles.
Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars will work “hand in hand” to maximise technical and commercial synergies. The first demonstration of the relationship will be revealed at the Monaco Grand Prix, the company says.
Mr. Ghosn commented: “Today we believe motorsport still sparks the imagination of both enthusiasts and everyday drivers. Formula 1 is a big part of our push to boost awareness of Renault range, particularly in territories where Renault is a newcomer.
‘“Formula 1 is a worldwide platform, running for 75 per cent of the year, and demonstrates cutting-edge innovations in mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, new material development, turbocharging, energy recovery systems and fuel economy.
"Our activities within Renault Sport Racing are entirely complementary. Formula E and other customer racing programmes highlight further areas of Renault’s expertise.
Pictured: Alpine Celebration concept.
“Naturally we hope that our commitment to motorsport will have a direct impact on Renault Sport sales. We aim to anchor engineering development, but enable it to be transferred and commercialised. Our increased motorsport commitment is at the core of our Renault brand strategy as well as technical innovation.”
Additionally to all this, Renault is preparing to reveal its reborn Alpine sub-brand this year, likely at the Paris motor show in October, though social media posts indicate it will reveal something mysterious later this month...
As you can read here, the Alpine brand, which will make a lightweight sports coupe (perhaps called the A120) styled after the famous A110 and built alongside the Clio RS in Dieppe, in northern France, will get lots of help from Renault Sport but will ultimately run its own ship.
More information on Renault Sport and Alpine:
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MORE: Renault AU considering online sales for Alpine
MORE: Alpine coupe for Australia in 2017, more details