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Six Quick Questions - Rudi Koenig, Renault


1. You have just launched a Megane Phase II in Australia. How important is the car?

"We think it's an exciting new product. Megane is a large part of the business, if you think about the Cabriolet, Scenic and Renault Sport models in addition to the basic hatch and sedan."

2. Renault has also decided to make Electronic Stability Control standard across the Megane. Why?

"The beauty of ESP is that it takes a driver of average ability and gives them well over average abilities in an emergency situation. It really is a silver bullet.

"Research by Renault has shown the benefits of ESP are substantial, with an estimated 35 per cent reduction in single-vehicle accidents attributed to the fitment of ESP."

3. What is the cost of ESP and do you think Renault will get a benefit when GM Holden also makes it standard on the VE Commodore?

"It is about a $1000 package. We asked France what the cost was, and whether it could be across the range. So it was a local initiative. "I think it will reinforce the buying decision and what it will do is keep Renault on the consideration set.

"We wanted to put a mark on the market that's a little bit different. This certainly gives us the opportunity. I think Holden coming onto the market with ESP will reinforce our decision. Our timing was more about Series II Megane than when Holden were going to launch."

4. So, is Renault trying to be the new Volvo on the safety front?

"The difference is that Renault is about safety with fun. And you cannot be 'the' safe one, beacuse most people perceive safety with all cars.

"We're not looking to be the new Volvo, but it's such an integral part of renault that we should shout it.

"We try to make safety as much fun as possible. It's good to be serious, but it's also good to have fun while being serious."

5. Your sales prediction this year is about 3000 cars yet Renault originally forecast 7500 by now. What has gone wrong?

"We're not happy. But that's in line with our forecasting. "It's all well and good to target 7500 but you have got to have product and resources. Those things didn't get.

"We have some aggressive plans for the future. Going ahead, we have a solid base and we will grow from there. We will go ahead.

"It's always an element of frustration. But I am a patient man. And we do have to walk before we run, and I think we are walking constructively. I would rather do the job properly.

6. What have you got in the pipeline?

"Other brands have the advantage of a large carpark, so their service can carry them. Our carpark is about 17,000 cars now, and it's growing, but we cannot sustatin our profitability without giving a chance of new cars.

"We have the Scenic II and diesel engines next year. "We're looking for a double banger. We'll have the grand Scenic seven- seater and five-seater, and diesel.

"Renault also has plans for 26 new models between now and 2009. They will be into areas which are more global and less European."

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