However, in Renault’s recent first-half financial results webcast, de Meo confirmed that, within just a month of becoming CEO, he and his team had “substantially reworked the product plan”, focusing on the most profitable segments. This, he said, would return Renault to “our position at the heart of the European market, on the centre of gravity that is right now in the C and C-plus segments.” He recalled how the first generation of the Mégane and Scenic “changed the company, and we have to do the same again”.
Whether this means the Mégane’s future is safer, or instead means that Renault’s C-segment SUV offerings will grow even further, remains to be seen. One possibility is that the Arkana, an SUV-coupé version of the Kadjar first launched in Russia, could be brought further west to expand the range.
De Meo will reveal the full details of his plan for Renault early next year.
Where does Alpine fit in with the new plans?
The future of Alpine is less clear than that of other brands in the wider Renault Group, as the harsh realities of building a bespoke sports car in a global pandemic and economic downturn hit home.
Renault’s latest official statement on the matter claims there will be an “open reflection on the reconversion of the Dieppe plant [Alpine’s hub] at the end of production of the Alpine A110”. That won’t be until 2023 or 2024, but the use of the word ‘reconversion’ suggests the plant (and likely Alpine itself) will undergo significant changes.
The brand’s future hinges on how wide-reaching Luca de Meo’s transformation and cost-cutting regime will be. The French media is reporting that de Meo has discussed the A110 needing a sequel. However, he was candid about his views on sports cars during his previous role as Seat boss, telling Autocar last year he couldn’t “afford to drop a few hundred million on something where I sell 15,000 cars at a loss just for the sake of doing a sports car”.
De Meo elaborated: “SUVs are called sports utility vehicles because they represent a new concept of sportiness. SUVs with a coupé look are for us what the two-door was: an impractical coupé you could barely fit in, but it was fast, the handling was amazing because of a low centre of gravity and so on. These things are gone.”