Renault is eyeing growth in the van sector after halting the dramatic decline in fleet car sales it experienced in 2012. That year its fleet volume halved, from 35,967 units to 17,862, amid a massive business restructure.
The French manufacturer now appears to have turned the corner, reporting 19,307 fleet car registrations in 2013 – an increase of more than 8% on the previous year.
However, its position is even better when taking sales to small fleets (10-25 vehicles) into consideration (Renault doesn’t, classing them as business retail). In 2013, its total fleet sales increased by 18% to 24,768.
UK sales director Darren Payne (pictured) told Fleet News: “We’ve completely refreshed our car range and introduced new models, which has given us momentum in both retail and fleet.”
In 2012, Renault underwent a model cull and reduced its dealer network by a third in an effort to return to profitability. The Kangoo car, Modus, Wind roadster, Laguna and Espace were withdrawn from the UK market, while staff numbers were also cut by a third.
Two years later, its refreshed range includes new Clio and Captur, and Dacia is making its mark after being introduced to the UK market.
Renault’s budget brand reported overall sales of 17,146 units last year from a standing start, but just 557 of those were registered to fleet.
Its failure to make in-roads in the sector is down to the fact traditional fleet discounts aren’t offered on Dacia or, as Payne puts it, “the price you see is the price you pay”.
However, he believes the brand is beginning to gain traction and he expects fleet sales to rise as awareness improves.
Payne is planning to grow Renault’s fleet car market share from 1.8% in 2013 to 2.5% by the end of 2014, but overall business will be continued to be weighted in favour of retail rather than fleet, equating to a 54:46 split.
He said: “It doesn’t mean we will be any less focused on fleet, but in order to achieve sustainable, profitable growth, we need to make sure we have that balance of business right for both us and our dealer partners.”
Payne is keen to maintain that balanced approach in fleet. Last year, daily rental accounted for 20.1% of Renault’s total fleet registrations, up from 10.7% in 2012, while Motability represented 17.86%, down from 22.4%.
“We want to make sure we have a balanced portfolio of fleet business,” he said. “That means the correct exposure in each of those channels and that’s in the interest of our own profitability and in the interest of protecting the residual values of our vehicles. We’re not looking to overexpose ourselves in any channel.”
Renault’s commercial vehicles registered an 11.8% fall, from 14,710 units to 12,978, in a market that recorded growth of more than 13%. Payne pointed to “product restriction” on Kangoo in the first half of the year as being partly responsible for the lack of growth.
But he is bullish about Renault’s prospects in the sector during the next 12 months. “It’s the year of the van,” he said. “We want to take our share of the market from 4.7% to 6% by the end of 2014.”
New Kangoo was launched last year, Master will get a refresh this year and Renault has unveiled an artist’s impression for the new Trafic, which will launched at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the end of April.
Payne said: “We intend to continue to grow our van business. We’ve certainly got the products to do it, as well as the network support and the fleet team to drive that growth.”