Renault to expand car lineup in Korea

By Chung Joo-won
  • Published : Jun 27, 2012 - 20:00
  • Updated : Jun 27, 2012 - 20:00
A top Renault Group executive unveiled a plan to launch a new lineup of small crossover compact utility vehicles in its Korean unit despite shrinking sales here.

“The market in Korea is changing, and the fragmentation of the market is increasing, therefore we have set to introduce by late 2013 a brand-new model which is going to be a small crossover that will strongly enhance the competitiveness after four years,” Renault Group chief operating officer Carlos Tavares said in a news conference in Seoul on Wednesday. 
Renault Group chief operating officer Carlos Tavares (right) and Renault Samsung Motors CEO Francois Provost attend a press conference in Seoul, on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

Currently, Renault Samsung produces the SM3, SM5 and SM7 sedans and the SUV QM5.

Tavares underscored Korea as its long-term export base in Asia, denying rumors that the French carmaker group may sell off the money-losing Renault Samsung Motors Corp.

He said the automaker aims to take up at least a 10 percent share in the Korean auto market in the near future and to sell more than 50 percent of its products outside of Western Europe by 2013. Renault Samsung’s share in the Korean market was less than 5 percent in the first quarter this year.

The COO also stressed that the ongoing European financial crisis will not have a negative impact on Renault, which plans to continue its investment for expansion.

“I would like that to be very clear that we will continue to invest where we need to invest to enhance our position,” Tavares said.

He claimed that Renault likely will achieve its goal considering its steep growth rate in sales outside of Western Europe ― 11 percent in 1999, 35 percent in 2010 and 42 percent in 2011.

The auto group expects that, with its proven quality and enhanced design, the new crossover CUV will reap a success in the global market.

“We continue to win in motor sports F-1 activities. In the last thirty years we won ten world championship titles. This is very representative of our car expertise,” Tavares said.

The COO also said that it will work on embracing “the Korean taste” to attract younger drivers. While Renault is the No. 2 automaker in Europe, it has been running as the No.4 automaker in Korea after Hyundai, Kia and GM Korea.

Renault Samsung aims to increase the purchase rate of its auto parts from domestic companies to at least 80 percent. The company is open to partnerships with any competitive producers of auto parts, its senior executive managing director Nah Ki-sung said.

By Chung Joo-won (