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  #16  
Old 02-18-2016, 12:03 PM
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Alpine-Renault isn't Renault though. It's something else. This will be sold alongside other Renaults, but my feeling is the buyer coming in to look at the Alpine is an older car enthusiast unlikely to be drawn to the Renaults sharing the floor. And it's not as though Alpine has the best name recognition anyways (yes, I know it is better known in Europe).

I just can't get this wrapped around my head. Were I management, I would want to focus on my core brands, as opposed to developing a sub-brand fronted by a singular sportscar. We've all seen how sportscar sales have done in the past decade. The Toyabaru isn't flying off the shelves.

FCA's limited success with increasing sales for Maserati and Alfa Romeo would be a warning to me as a Renault-Nissan exec. This seems like a vanity project destined to lose money.

An awesome vanity project though; a compact coupe sportscar with decent looks? Sign me up.
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  #17  
Old 02-18-2016, 12:20 PM
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Well, it would make sense if they deliberately did not want to dilute/pollute/infuse/contaminate/confuse any brand with that of another. As you say, which archetypal Renault buyer is going to buy an Alpine anyway? Separate brands for different market segments have long been proven successful, eg. Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti, Honda/Acura, Lincoln/Ford. Granted, Mercury and Scion are gone, but I digress.

At the local auto mall, I still get a kick out of the fact that the 4C is being sold out of the same showroom as they're using for the 500/500L/500X. Two brands, two different segments, but, I suppose, they figured, "small European cars go in that building over there." I'm still waiting on where they're going to stick the Giulia.
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  #18  
Old 02-18-2016, 12:50 PM
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Well that's not how a showroom traffic driver works, is it?

Imagine you are in the market for a small supermini. You are not interested in a sportscar, maybe you can't afford it or maybe it isn't practical for your needs or maybe you find cars and utter ballache; whatever.

You enter a Skoda dealer, and immediately you are in a sea of grey cars. All very practical but hardly exciting. The salesman tells you all about boot sizes and warranty extensions. You fall asleep. Then leave.

Next, you enter the Renault showroom. And in the same showroom floor full of grey cars there is also this 2 seater mid engined sportscar. You notice it and the salesman tells you that the company that makes the grey hatchback you want to buy also makes it. You discuss rear leg room and finance payments and, of course, fall asleep. But in the back of your head there's this thought... "Even if I can only afford a grey citycar which costs 3p if I get this instead of the Skoda I'll have a bit of 2 seater sportscar magic, even when I'm in a traffic jam, at eight o'clock in the morning, on my way to the office, on a Monday". There's a smither of excitement even if you know nothing about cars. And excitement is good, makes you look and feel interesting and that's even better than good.

That's how (or at least one of the ways) showroom traffic drivers work, don't they?
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  #19  
Old 02-18-2016, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrer View Post
Well that's not how a showroom traffic driver works, is it?

Imagine you are in the market for a small supermini. You are not interested in a sportscar, maybe you can't afford it or maybe it isn't practical for your needs or maybe you find cars and utter ballache; whatever.

You enter a Skoda dealer, and immediately you are in a sea of grey cars. All very practical but hardly exciting. The salesman tells you all about boot sizes and warranty extensions. You fall asleep. Then leave.

Next, you enter the Renault showroom. And in the same showroom floor full of grey cars there is also this 2 seater mid engined sportscar. You notice it and the salesman tells you that the company that makes the grey hatchback you want to buy also makes it. You discuss rear leg room and finance payments and, of course, fall asleep. But in the back of your head there's this thought... "Even if I can only afford a grey citycar which costs 3p if I get this instead of the Skoda I'll have a bit of 2 seater sportscar magic, even when I'm in a traffic jam, at eight o'clock in the morning, on my way to the office, on a Monday". There's a smither of excitement even if you know nothing about cars. And excitement is good, makes you look and feel interesting and that's even better than good.

That's how (or at least one of the ways) showroom traffic drivers work, don't they?
Well, sure, I don't disagree with that at all, but it still is only one perspective.

What you are saying is that the clout of the exciting is going to make the lesser models interesting to an otherwise oblivious market segment. What I'm saying, on the other hand, is that the sea of gray and boring is going to inevitably, and on some level, tarnish the impression of the new and exciting. If that new and exciting bit turns out to be an up-scale, more luxurious build than the plain, it only becomes more polarizing.

I know the following example is a bit egregious, but bear with me on this one: if you're going to go look at a Ferrari, you don't exactly want to fight your way through the ranks of Fiat Pandas.

Whether Renault decides to market the thing as a Renault-Alpine or simply a separate Alpine, I believe they have plenty of reason to do either.
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  #20  
Old 02-18-2016, 01:22 PM
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I could very well be wrong, but I think it will work out like that:
  1. Their idea is to either create a new Lexus or a new Audi (probably the most appropiate example is the latter, as Alpine does have a history behind). As such they want exciting new products to create brand which boasts a brilliant image and boosts fat profit margins (which Renaults, never mind Dacias, probably do not have)
  2. Nobody wants an expensive French sportscar from a brand name whose customer base is mostly dead or can't drive any more. The Japanese, not really known for having few resources and making things the half-assed way, have failed with their approach in Europe (let's remember that Alpine's playground will mainly be Europe). This doesn't bode well for the Alpine
  3. Finally, when nobody buys one and you can get one really cheaply because they are languishing on dealer lots it will gain the traffic showroom driver role we discussed in the previous post(s). Which anyway is what Alpines have been since Renault bought the company from Jean Redélé back in the seventies. In fact the last Alpine that wasn't based on a production Renault was... the Renault Spider. This will probably (possibly unfortunately) end up being the same, the only difference is that in this case they have chosen to revive the Alpine name.

Who knows, if I'm wrong maybe Renault has the next Lexus. Maybe they had the work so advanced when they broke up with Caterham that they had no option but to finish it and put it on sale anyway. Or maybe they see the need to move on because of DS or the planned resurgence of Alfa Romeo. Or maybe it's a bit of both. Or maybe it has nothing to do with anything I have said here.

Only time will tell.
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  #21  
Old 02-18-2016, 01:35 PM
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I think you're right on the separate brand, and I'm wondering how they're going to market one or more cars under this one brand now.

Just noticed that they are running their social media campaign very separately from Renault: Alpine_cars (@alpine_cars) | Twitter
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  #22  
Old 02-18-2016, 02:23 PM
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Live launch was on the Group's main Twitter account, though.

Renault (@Groupe_Renault) | Twitter
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  #23  
Old 02-18-2016, 06:16 PM
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Nobody wants an expensive French sportscar from a brand name whose customer base is mostly dead or can't drive any more. The Japanese, not really known for having few resources and making things the half-assed way, have failed with their approach in Europe (let's remember that Alpine's playground will mainly be Europe). This doesn't bode well for the Alpine
This is why I am skeptical, and I'm finally taking a stance here, I don't think this is a good idea.

Lexus, Infiniti, and Cadillac (to throw an American brand in there) may have been failures in Europe, but Lexus especially does well in North America. It is interesting how the luxury divisions of the Japanese big three have largely struggled outside of our market, and as a Japanese executive, I would really want to see Acura et al. do well globally, especially in places like the Middle East.

Japan may not have the recipe right for Europe in this class, but I could see a better play for these brands in the Middle East and some emerging markets.
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  #24  
Old 02-19-2016, 02:13 AM
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The market for the Alpine is probably about the same as the Toyobaru, only it probably skews a little older and a little less 'lets modify this'. So basically the MX-5 crowd, only the Alpine will be worse to drive and it has a roof.

So yea, I don't have a lot of faith in it being a success either. Although, maybe someone will stuff the driveline in a Twingo, at which point the project will be a success in my books.
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  #25  
Old 02-19-2016, 02:23 AM
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Lexus is the only luxury division (after Audi) that is what we could call a success. Even here in Europe they do moderately well (bearing in mind the limited range of models and lack of suitable powertrains).

It takes a lot of money and effort, ask executives at Volkswagen and Toyota, to make a successful luxury brand stand out in the market places. You need excellent products, undercutting the rivals' prices, lots and lots of marketing and many other things. Ate up with motor's Lexus LS article is particularly insightful.

http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/lexus-ls400/

As for NA sales (Canada + USA), well let's look at the 2015 totals:
  1. Mercedes-Benz 416,787
  2. BMW 381,025
  3. Lexus 366,626
  4. Audi 228,956
  5. Acura 198,168
  6. Cadillac 182,999
  7. Infiniti 144,819
  8. Lincoln 102,413
  9. Volvo 74,835
  10. Jaguar 15,762 (doesn't include LR)

Essentially, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus play in another league compared to the others; Audi does well because it does well in the rest of the world (the others have no RoW to rely on). Acura outsells Cadillac!

What about Europe?
  1. Audi 767,173
  2. BMW 748,176
  3. Mercedes-Benz 737,278
  4. Volvo 285,861
  5. DS 75,233
  6. Alfa Romeo 56,796
  7. Jaguar 40,268 (doesn't include LR)
  8. Lexus 39,598
  9. Cadillac 590

In this case it's the three Germans which any of them not only outsells all of the others combined but it's almost twice as much as all the others combined. Volvo sells more in Europe than Cadillac (more than 50% more) and for some reason Jaguar outsells Lexus. Infiniti doesn't even feature in the sales charts. DS sales are actually down from 2014 (85,214).

You mention emerging markets, but China apparently is doing as well as it had been hoped (which is the only other market which matters).

So in essence, very difficult to get a slice of this very lucrative market. But they apparently want to try.
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