French carmaker Renault is reviewing its pricing policies for electric cars worldwide to ensure it stays competitive after a wave of price cuts by U.S. rival Tesla, a top executive said on Monday, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Renault presents a face-lift of its (ICE) best-seller, the Clio.
After slashing prices several times in the United States, Tesla on Friday cut prices in Europe, including on Renault’s home turf of France, expanding a global discount drive it began in China in January.
“We will analyze country by country, market by market, which level of competitiveness we need to have to stay in the game,” Fabrice Cambolive, the chief executive of the Renault brand, told reporters on Monday.
Signs of recovery?
Worldwide sales for the Renault brand reached 354 545 vehicles in the first three months of the year (+9%). The whole group, which also produces Dacia and Alpine cars and will release group-wide sales data Thursday, posted a 5,9% decline in sales in 2022. Sales for the Renault brand, which represents two-thirds of the group’s total, fell by 9,4% last year, their fourth consecutive annual decline.
The French company, hit harder than most rivals by the COVID-19 crisis and a global chip shortage, is now betting on higher-margin cars to boost profits, and plans to spin off and list its electric vehicles unit on the market this year.
Renault ranked as the third EV brand for sales in Europe behind Tesla and Volkswagen last year. It was also third in the electrified segment, including hybrid vehicles, behind Toyota and Tesla.
The sales rise by 9% in the first quarter of 2023, indicating a restructuring strategy focusing on the most profitable models may be starting to pay off after four years of declining revenues. Cambolive said the rebound had extended into April, adding however that Tesla’s price cuts were a wake-up call.
Mégane E versus Model 3
Cambolive said sales of Renault’s Megane Electric, one of its most popular, had risen sharply in March. After last week’s price cut by Tesla, the Tesla Model 3 in France starts now at € 41 990 euros, directly competitive to the € 42 000 asked for the Megane electric.
The Megane E sold 3 570 units in France in the first quarter, compared with 3 158 units of the Tesla Model 3. Of course, one has to consider that the U.S. carmaker also sold 9 364 units of its more upmarket SUV Model Y in France.
“It’s clear that Tesla’s cutting prices strategy is a challenge, starting with the cost side of things. It’s a warning that we are looking at,” Cambolive said.
Apparently, not everybody is reacting in the same way to Tesla’s pricing maneuvers. The VW Group already signaled that it’s not entering this price battle for the moment, at least not in Europe.
At a separate event in Paris, Hyundai Motor Group President responsible for design Luc Donckerwolke told reporters the South Korean automaker will not participate in a price war and that Tesla’s cuts reflected a degree of anxiety in the face of growing competition.
New Clio face-lift
The Renault Clio has been an uninterrupted best-seller since its launch in 1990, and 16 million of them have been sold worldwide so far. It has been one of the most popular city cars in the market for five generations. Today, Renault has presented a face-lift of its icon, wanting it to become “a perfect illustration of the Renault brand’s ‘Nouvelle Vague’.
Its new style wants to be even more compelling and elegant, and the interior has been upgraded in a new cycle with the first rendering of the brand’s new design language. The light signature has been completely revamped and channels the brand’s identity.
“There is a real love story with the Clio in France and all around the world actually,” said Gilles Vidal, VP of Design for the Renault brand. “So we wanted to celebrate the core values of this icon and bring it to the next level by transforming it.”
“We kept in mind the need of homogeneity and the idea of projecting it into the future with a more technological design while keeping its human touch. The New Clio is the successful fusion of generous shapes, sculpted volumes, sharp lines, and graphics,” he added.
New Clio has also updated its technology, for instance, including a digital dashboard in all its trims. It comes with a wider choice of powertrains than any other car in its category, so everyone can choose the configuration that best matches their needs. The highlight is the 145-hp E-Tech full hybrid. New Clio will come in a choice of trims, including the new Esprit Alpine trim.
“Clio has enjoyed constant success, Renault brand CEO Cambolive says. “It is the world’s best-selling French car and a category leader in Europe. The New Clio underscores its modern edge by unveiling a new, expressive front end.”
“The E-Tech full hybrid powertrain under the bonnet is a pleasure to drive. It emits less and has a greater range: 145 horsepower, as little as 93 g CO2/km, and 4,1 l/100 km of petrol consumption. An ideal technological alternative for customers seeking to renew their diesel vehicles,” he concluded.
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