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Renault Samsung bullish on new SM7

Marketing chief says new SM7 beats rivals, firm recovering from Japan quake impact


The revamped SM7, to be released within three months, will be successful in the country’s upper largesized sedan market with its improved driving comfort, Frederic Artaud, marketing chief at Renault Samsung, predicted Sunday.

“As showcased and proved at the Seoul Motor Show 2011, Renault Samsung is highly confident of the new SM7 due out soon,” the newly appointed chief of the company’s Sales and Marketing Division said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

“I cannot reveal too much about the new model. It is superior compared with other midsized sedans out in the market in terms of quality and driving comfort,” he added.
Frederic Artaud, chief of Renault Samsung’s Sales and Marketing Division
Frederic Artaud, chief of Renault Samsung’s Sales and Marketing Division

The local affiliate of French carmaker Renault plans to make the revamped SM7 available on the local market in the third quarter of the year, which it sees as an opportunity to expand its market share. It currently has the smallest share of the upper midsized market among the four local-based carmakers competing in the segment.

The new SM7 will be an entirely new vehicle in the same way the new SM3 had little in common with its predecessor. As unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show in April, it will be the company’s largest model since its launch in 2004. The release will come with a completely different look under radically different design, the company said.

Since taking the post on April 12, Artaud has been trying to incorporate European sales culture which emphasizes closer coordination between colleagues across the world as well as with customers.
Renault Samsung’s SM7
Renault Samsung’s SM7

“I have worked with management level officers within the company in Spain, Belgium, Netherlands and France before I took this post. The experience tells me that continued and consistent coordination with global office is crucial in understanding the business in general,” he said.

“It is especially important in marketing our new product because we need to share how customers perceive our product and reflect that in making decisions.”

The French sales expert said Renault Samsung is recovering from a temporary sales cut due to disruptions of Japanese supplies after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The company cut output at its factory in Busan by 20 percent during April, which lowered that month’s sales.

Factories of Renault Samsung normally produce 23,000 vehicles per month but produced 4,500 less cars in the month as they relied heavily on Nissan suppliers for its six-cylinder engine cars.

“Renault Samsung performed very well across 2009 and 2010. The sales were contracted a little this year but the impact from the Japanese earthquake is gone,” Artaud said.

“We’re definitely in recovery mode and our sales are improving.”

The company sold 189,810 cars in 2009, of which 56,180 were exported. The figure jumped to 271,479 last year and the number of exported cars more than doubled to 115,783.

By Cynthia J. Kim cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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