Auto Plus interview with Luca de Meo, Renault boss …

The new boss of Renault does not have the tongue in his pocket. Asked by Auto Plus about the group’s challenges and projects, Luca de Meo demonstrated that he has a sense of the formula. Anthology.

DWeeks after unveiling his strategic plan to restore the company to its feet, the Renault group’s CEO was answering questions from some journalists in the automotive sector. Future ranges, electrification, positioning… Even if it has no miracle solution to offer – in this case for long journeys in electric -, it answers (almost) bluntly. In the end, a long-winded exchange lasting nearly an hour and a style that contrasts with that of its counterparts and its predecessor. The Italian fifty-something gives us his vision of the automotive industry and his ambitions for Renault in a tone that is not very academic (familiarity, humor and non-feigned relaxation) but nevertheless very determined. It must be said that the new boss of Losange has some strengths to show. Passed by Toyota, Audi or Volkswagen, he was also one of the craftsmen at Fiat the successful relaunch of the 500 in the 2000s and the move upmarket in recent years of Seat. And soon the recovery of Renault?

On the same subject

On the next models

> The future Mégane – “We will switch the Mégane to the electric

The future of the Mégane will only be electric. Without detour, the leader indicated that there will be more thermal version of the sedan. “But it’s not for tomorrow,” he says, wishing to let the life cycle of the current Mégane end, which he places in 2024.

> Reliability – “People who know me know that I don’t make cars that I won’t buy

No more failures, he promises, referring to the reliability problems experienced by Renault for certain launches (Espace, R-Link system, 1.2 TCe …). To do this, he completely reorganized the production chain. “The quality, you do it, you don’t talk about it.” We will therefore have to wait to judge from evidence.

> The underground models – “Do you want me to do a necro?

Despite this touch of humor, the manager did not completely kick in touch to evoke the end of certain ranges: “The Talisman and the Space are barely 8,000 to 10,000 units. In my place, what would you do? ? “It’s simple, to find out which models will not be renewed, the director invites us to examine Renault’s overall sales:” Models below 100,000 units per year, 50,000 for a derivative, we replace them. “In this case, no renewal for the Twingo. As for the Scénic, it is also on borrowed time.

> The Renault 5 – “In terms of price, it will be below the Zoe

According to our estimates, the future R5 will be around € 20,000. “The Zoe is going to be on the market for another three or four years until the R5 arrives. The R5 will have to play the role that the Zoe plays now.”

> Alpine – “We will shoot the Berlinette until at least 2024

Before launching a 100% electric sports car with Lotus, Alpine will continue to market the petrol A110 for a few more years … before electrifying its entire range, which could soon include an SUV.

Renault price increase

No one wants to hear it, but all cars are going to cost a lot more in 5 years

The price of a Renault will average between € 26,000 and € 27,000 by 2025, an increase of around € 7,000 in just four years.. Huge ! According to de Meo, the increases will not be the prerogative of the Losange and will concern the entire automotive industry: “It shocks everyone when I say that I want to raise the prices, but you have to know that all cars will cost more and more expensive. ”The reason? The higher costs required by electric motors. “If you want to make 25 to 30% hybrids and as many electrics to reach the CO2 emissions targets, you have to increase the prices. And that no one wants to hear, not even in the political sphere! “But the technological investment is not the only reason for this programmed jump in the manufacturer’s prices. As he has already announced (see Auto Plus n ° 1690), the boss has the ambition to upgrade his brand. Increases already initiated by Renault: some models have already inflated their prices by several hundred euros since then. the beginning of the year. In particular the pre-retired Espace minivan, whose call price increased by € 2,000!

What about the big rollers?

It’s not just for us to do the job

“The growth in sales of electricity is stronger than that of infrastructure. And this, despite the promises,” laments de Meo. The public authorities did not keep their commitments. It is out of the question for him to engage in the development of public charging stations. “It’s too complex!” On the other hand, the manager declares himself ready to collaborate in the creation of terminals on the major axes: “I am ready to join a consortium to help reduce the anxiety of a person who wants to make a Paris-Brittany or a Paris-Lyon, as the Germans have done, with more or less success, with Ionity. We must come together to create a network of superchargers on the highways. ” …

The classic combustion engine is like the Gitanes without a filter: it’s over

We took advantage of the interview with the boss of Renault to remind him that, for the time being, diesel remains the best option for heavy drivers. But, nothing to do: for him, the thermal is indeed at the twilight of his life. “I can assure you of the death of the conventional combustion engine without electrification.” And that, in the near future. “It’s like the Gypsies, it’s over.” He even believes that, in certain segments, “hybrids will have a hard time”. In short, it is now the electric that takes precedence. “We don’t make the rules.”

If you often go to the mountains, the plug-in hybrid is good

“I drive a Captur E-Tech and I consume 1.4 or 1.5 liters per hundred kilometers.” Hybridization, the remedy for long distances? Yeah … Provided that the mountain is less than a hundred kilometers away, because beyond that, to achieve this meager consumption, recharging is compulsory. “Of course you have to use the hybrid vehicle as it should and recharge the battery systematically. Otherwise it’s like buying a coffee machine and you don’t put water in it.”

We have solutions for those who want to make 600 or 700 KM

If de Meo deplores – rightly – the lack of fast charging stations and the delay in the growth of infrastructure despite promises from political leaders, he is a bit of a dodge when it comes to finding a solution. sustainable: “For example, on the Twingo, if you need to cover 700 km, we can find a solution. This is what we communicate.” Renault includes in its long-term rental offer of the electric Twingo the loan of a thermal vehicle for 30 days a year. In short, to drive a lot, the alternative to electric is … thermal!

Electric Dacia

It’s not with a Spring that we’re going to make money

Asked about the profitability of Dacia’s future electric mini-car, de Meo confirms that it is not with this “low cost” model that the group will achieve its ambitious profit targets. Scheduled for October, the Dacia Spring – whose price will, according to our estimates, be around € 11,000 (bonus deducted) – should above all allow the manufacturer to meet the CO2 emission limits dictated by the European Union . “With this type of offer, you have to calculate the amount of the fine that you have avoided by increasing the volume, and you also provide people with affordable electric.” Sales of the Zoe (nearly 100,000 units passed in Europe) have allowed the group to be in the nails in 2020. And he intends to achieve this this year thanks to the Spring.

The Renault-Peugeot “squabble”

We are still in the Constructors’ Champions League

Admittedly, de Meo – and, before him, Jean-Dominique Senard, president of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance – has repeatedly insisted: the race for volume is no longer relevant. But the leader wishes to recall that his group is still one of the big manufacturers: “I think we are 3rd or 4th at the last count[des ventes]”. But now profitability is the most important.” Now that they have merged with FCA[Fiat], it is PSA which will have to target the large volumes. “

They made the difference with the 3008 and the 5008. We had the Kadjar and the Koleos …

De Meo admits he wants the same success as Peugeot in the SUV segment. “They sold a lot of them.” To do this, the group will launch 11 models across all its brands in the C segment (sedans and compact SUVs): “We will have the right price, the right technology and the right design.”

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