- 2022 Clio launches in SA in February. 2022 Captur launches in May.
- Renault Trafic will arrive for business in third quarter of 2022.
- Covid-19 and semiconductor chip shortage a challenge, but the tide is turning.
- For motoring news, go to Wheels24
Renault South Africa's managing director Jaco Oosthuizen took some time out of his hectic schedule to chat about what it is like to steer one of South Africa's most popular vehicle brands during one of the most challenging periods in human history. Amidst an ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and while dealing with global stock shortages and production hiccups, the Renault boss remains optimistic that better times are coming for the automotive industry and consumers.
Here is a Wheels24 exclusive interview with Renault South Africa managing director Jaco Oosthuizen.
1. Would you mind sharing insights on Renault's recent business operations from a global and local perspective and how 2021 has treated the local market in terms of new car sales?
"2021 saw the implementation of the global repositioning of the Renault brand with the launch of the 'Renaulution' introduced by the Renault Groupe Global CEO Luca de Meo late in 2020, centred on building brand value over time and driving the company to be a technology-forward organisation.
"Our new corporate identity and the brand shift has brought a fresh look and feel to the Renault brand, in a bid to create a more iconic brand. 2021 presented several challenges further to the pandemic, such as the semiconductor shortages and supply chain challenges. Despite the issues faced, we forecast the overall local passenger and light commercial vehicle market to end between 435 000 to 445 000 units this year. A strong recovery from 2020, exceeding most initial forecasts.
"At Renault SA, we are targeting a market share of 5 per cent up 0.4 per cent from 2020 but still 0.3 per cent down from 2019, our best year ever. The launch of the all-new Renault Kiger in September has served to reinvigorate sales, enabling record sales months over both September and October. We were limited to retailing five models only for the first eight months of 2021, with one in the run-out phase. The biggest challenge for us was to ensure dealer viability and to keep customers loyal to the brand. Our marketing and sales teams did a great job, and we managed to sell 1400 units per month up until August."
2. You've introduced some exciting new models during the lockdown, such as the Kiger; however, many of your new models were delayed. Can you tell us why?
"Renault SA should have launched both the new Clio and Captur models towards the end of 2020. Initially, the delay was due to a pricing issue because of the unfavourable exchange rate, followed by the global semiconductor shortages.
"But I am happy to announce that we will launch the new Clio V in February 2022, followed shortly by Captur in May 2022. New Trafic models will join the local line-up later on in 2022, and there are some model enhancements in the planning phase for both the Kwid and Triber models."
Which Renault model are you excited about in 2022? Clio, Captur, Trafic? Let us know in the comments section on please send us an email here.
3. Renault has been teasing South Africans with the idea of a pick-up (bakkie) for some years. Is this going to happen in 2022?
"Accurate prediction of the arrival of Oroch has proved challenging. Since joining the brand in 2017, our forecast has always been "next year", but in all honestly, Oroch is manufactured as a left-hand drive vehicle in Brazil and will have to be converted to a right-hand drive vehicle and homologated for the SA market."
4. As RS Performance cars are now part of Renault's Alpine division, is it true that we won't be able to buy the next-generation Clio RS?
"The Clio RS F1 limited edition that we launched in 2019 was the last of the Clio RS models. Fortunately for our RS customers, there are plans in play to source Megane RS within our market. Timing for this yet to be confirmed."
5. Megane has moved into the all-electric space, and Renault is no newcomer in this electric car race. Can we expect a more significant push into hybrids and EVs with the new Megane in 2022?
"Yes, but not yet in 2022. As you know, Renault has been number one in Europe for electric vehicle (EV) sales throughout 2021. Globally, the brand has a strong EV line-up, ready for import if we can achieve the correct value proposition for both our clients and dealer network."
6. What are some of the critical areas you plan to address in the Renault SA business in the coming year?
"We have developed an established and strong dealer network, with continued expansion planned to increase our footprint, coupled with a strong focus on customer retention and growth.
"We will continue to focus on nurturing our relationships with our current corporate fleet clients to retain the existing contracts that we hold and ensure that these are extended into new replacement cycles.
"Furthermore, we will be focusing on expanding our business with the government. We have worked hard on improving our after-sales proposition to our clients over the last five years, and this will remain a strong business priority as we advance. The success of our ongoing efforts is evident in the "Inaugural AA Spare Parts Pricing Guide" released in September and the last Kinsey report. 'Fixing cars the first time' when things go wrong is a critical strategic drive. We still have our brand challenges but have made great strides in countering these."
7. Finally, what's been your greatest challenge and opportunity as the managing director at Renault SA in 2021 and what have you learned from this experience to make you a more robust business responder?
"As I'm sure is the case with all managing directors, managing a brand through the three Covid-19 waves to date has been the most formidable challenge of my entire career, especially with the onset of the 1st wave, with no previous experience or understanding on how to manage an ongoing business within pandemic times.
"Maintaining positive staff morale has remained my top priority, and as much as we have strived to keep all staff healthy and safe, we, unfortunately, lost two Renault Dealer Network staff to Covid-19, with 12 staff in total have lost their lives to Covid-19 within our independent and multi-franchise network. It's been a challenging time, and we learn new things every day. I'm looking forward to 2022 and the challenges and opportunities it brings."
Wheels 24 would like to thank Jaco Oosthuizen for his time and for sharing some insights into Renault's operations. We're looking forward to assessing the all-new Kiger soon, and we'll be sure to bring you the latest news on the forthcoming 2022 Clio and 2022 Captur.
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