Renault Australia is undergoing a resurgence under its new distributor Ateco, with calendar year 2022 sales up almost 25 percent year-on-year, putting our market in the top 10 globally for the French manufacturer.
Rewinding back to 2020, Renault as a brand was in trouble. Not just in Australia, but globally with the company undergoing a massive transformation to get back to a level of profitability that would allow it to invest in future product.
The plan was divided into three parts: resuscitation, renovation and revolution. The first part was simply about getting Renault back to a state where it could survive without enormous financial losses, while the second stage (where the company is now) is getting back to selling cars and becoming profitable.
The third stage is about the company’s transformation for the next stage of mobility – EVs, car-sharing, and the like.
Glen Sealey, the boss of Renault under distributor Ateco, told CarExpert that things changed very rapidly since the business changed hands.
“As Renault distributors [in] Australia, we took that from the direct subsidiary, it was very fast, very quick and we had to hit the ground running. Has it been successful? We got some growth in 2021 and we had significant growth in 2022 up nearly 25 percent,” Mr Sealey said.
But despite the growth and selling 8855 cars last year – more than the likes of Jeep and Skoda – Mr Sealey admits the target for Renault in Australia is not volume at all costs.
“What’s important there is that volume is not our ultimate ambition, part of the success of Renault today is the philosophy of value over volume,” Mr Sealey said.
“[Renault global CEO] Luca de Meo, what he has done is pulled out an enormous amount of cost, reduce the break-even point by more than 50 per cent, reduced capacity by 1.2m vehicles (per year) and brought about a profit.
“So while our car sales are up, that is not our ambition, our ambition is a quality business – we want to adhere to that value of volume quality”
As for how Ateco turned the business around in Australia – Renault sales globally where down nine percent in 2022 – Mr Sealey says it was all about going back to basics.
“Locally we simplified the business, knowing that in Australia, Renault sits as a very small brand in a multi-franchise environment. Secondly, we engaged with our dealer network, with our staff and with our customers,” he explained.
“Where we go from here is this philosophy of value over volume will continue as it’s important for us, because some of this is making sure the private market is a sustainable part of our business.
“If I look, we have gone up 18 percent from 2019 to nearly 50 per cent of our business is now private – [that’s a lot] considering how many vans we sell”
Renault Australia has also skewed its mix toward higher-end versions of its models, with 70 per cent of all sales now comprised of up-spec variants.
“Moving forward and simplifying our business we just want three SUVs, 3 LCVs and move forward into our EV range. As a business Ateco is a lean business, our philosophy is the same with Renault, we are very focused on our spending, every dollar counts,” said Mr Sealey.
One other key area of improvement has been customer and technical support, with Ateco putting specialists technicians in Sydney and Brisbane whereas previously it was only available in Melbourne.
With 58 Renault dealers and more likely to come, it seems that Renault’s resurgence in Australia is only beginning.