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.September 10, 2003
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With The Success Of Mégane, Renault Consolidates Its Position As European Market Leader

Photo: Automotive Intelligence
 

Building on the success of its new models - Mégane and Espace - Renault consolidated its position as Western Europe's top passenger car and light commercial vehicle brand in first-half 2003. The Renault group is continuing to grow outside Western Europe, notably through its Renault Samsung Motors and Dacia brands. The group's net income rose by more than 30% in first-half 2003.

Mégane, Europe's top-selling car

Mégane topped the Western European sales charts in the first half of 2003, with 306,206 vehicles sold, up 11.3% on the first half of 2002. Number one in France, Spain, Portugal and Belgium-Luxembourg, Mégane also ranked in the top three in the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. With the success of Mégane and Espace IV and the sustained popularity of Clio, Renault consolidated its position as Europe's No. 1 brand in the first half of 2003. It claimed first place both for passenger cars, with a 10.7% market share, and for light commercial vehicles, for which penetration reached 14.8%. For the first time, Renault was also the top European brand for diesel vehicles, with a 12.8% share of the market. In the second half of 2003, building on the success of its new models and the launch of the full range of Mégane versions, Renault is aiming to increase its European market share.

 

Outside Western Europe, Renault group sales grew 4.4% to 272,357 units. The group benefited from buoyant demand in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico and Northern Latin America, as well as from the recovery in Turkey. The Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors brands also continued their advance, growing sales by 14.8% and 10.6%, respectively. Overall, with market conditions in Western Europe contrasting strongly with those in the rest of the world, the Renault group sold 1,224,953 passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in the first six months of 2003, down 4.5%.

4.4% increase in Renault group sales outside Western Europe

Renault Samsung Motors confirmed its success on the Korean market. Sales grew 10.6% in first-half 2003 to almost 60,000 vehicles. More than 300,000 examples of the SM5 saloon have been sold since its came onto the market in 1998. The SM3, launched in September 2002, held a 17% share of its segment. Dacia is enjoying renewed growth with 31,506 units sold, up 14.8% on firsthalf 2002. This success is due largely to Solenza, launched in April 2003, which embodies the new visual identity of the brand. Exports by the Romanian carmaker have tripled with respect to first-half 2002.

A sharp increase in net income

Against an uncertain economic backdrop in first-half 2003, marked by a 2.6% decline in the European car market, Renault reported financial results in line with forecasts. Net income rose sharply to €1,177 million, up more than 30% on first-half 2002, while revenues totalled €18,653 million, down 2.1% on the same period in 2002, and operating margin stood at 3.2%, on a par with second-half 2002. Net financial indebtedness also contracted. At end June, it represented 18% of shareholders' equity, compared with 21% at the end of 2002. This increase in net income was driven by a sharp rise in the earnings of Nissan, whose contribution totalled €859 million. Renault also benefited from the strong performance of the AB Volvo group, the world's number-two truck manufacturer, in which Renault is the leading shareholder with a 20% stake. AB Volvo contributed €91 million.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance extends joint operations

In 2002, the Renault-Nissan Alliance took a 9.1% share of the world market, with 5,139,505 vehicles sold (2,403,975 units for the Renault group and 2,735,530 for Nissan). This result placed the group among the world's top five carmakers. The Alliance continued its expansion in 2003 with the creation of new joint operating structures.

At the commercial level, following on from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, a new Renault-Nissan single legal entity (SLE) was set up in Austria in May 2003. As part of the mutual support policy applied by the two carmakers in their respective market areas, Renault took over import and distribution activities for Nissan cars in Romania in January 2003. Likewise, Nissan importers have been distributing Renault cars in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar since January 2003. In Malaysia, Renault will team up with Nissan's local partner to distribute the Renault range and assemble Kangoo. Lastly in Tunisia, Renault's local partner began importing the Nissan range in May 2003. In June 2003, Renault and Nissan announced the creation of a joint regional spare parts warehouse in Hungary to cover the activities of both carmakers in Central Europe from the end of 2004.

In terms of industrial synergies, the Alliance is pursuing its common platform policy in 2003. After the B platform inaugurated by Nissan with the Micra and March, the C platform was launched with New Mégane and will be used later by the Nissan Almera replacement. More than 50% of the vehicles sold by the two brands will eventually be produced on these two platforms.

The two partners are also developing cross-manufacturing. Since March 2003, the Nissan Xterra 4WD has been produced in the Renault plant at Curitiba in Brazil, alongside the Nissan Frontier pick-up. From October 2003, Nissan will launch a Kangoo produced at the Renault Maubeuge plant in France and marketed in Europe under the name of Kubistar. Likewise, a leisure version of Trafic, to be launched in the first quarter of 2004, will be made at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain.

Concerning the joint use of powertrain components, Nissan Micra is fitted with the Renault 1.5-litre dCi engine and five-speed manual gearbox. The Nissan 3-litre diesel engine will be mounted on the Renault Master and Mascott light commercial vehicles from the end of 2003.

(September 9, 2003)


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