You have many painfully dissatisfied customers in South Africa. What is being done to improve Renault's poor image in South Africa? Also, several readers are concerned by rumours that dealerships are being closed in preparation for your leaving South Africa. How true is this?
Thursday, 22nd November 2007 was a milestone day for Renault South Africa. On this day Executive Vice-President for Renault Group, Product, Platforms, Patrick Pélata announced that Renault would invest in the production of the new Renault Sandero right here in South Africa.
Taking into consideration that this announcement was made within weeks of the new Renault Sandero being unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt Motorshow for the first time on 10th September 2007, is indicative of the importance of the South African market for the Renault Group. Growth - with the expansion of our global footprint predominantly outside of Western Europe.
Renault South Africa is also proud to be a founder member and platinum sponsor of the Valued Citizens Initiative launched in 2001, whereby teachers and students in schools around South Africa are being taught the basic values of human interaction with each other.
With our local plans to meet the Renault Global 2009 commitments, our involvement in a grass roots community project, and the significant investment currently underway for the installation of the production line of a locally built Renault model in South Africa, it is very clear that Renault is firmly entrenched in South Africa and fully committed to bettering our service to customers in all areas.
There were several comments about a general lack of service centres - are there any plans to expand the dealer network?
We have plans to increase our service capacity within our existing dealerships through the recruitment of additional technicians. There are 47 full Renault dealerships plus four additional dealerships that are Renault service dealers only. This is a total of 51 service points for our customers.
Many of your dealerships have also been pointed out as having shocking service track records. How accountable are your dealers to Renault SA's head office and what is being done to improve the customer experience at dealerships?
The first strategic axis of Renault South Africa is Quality - of both Sales and Service. We are aware that our service quality is currently not at a satisfactory level and all our actions in every one of our departments are currently being re-focused to be 100% customer-oriented at both head office and dealership level. We expect to make significant improvements in our level of service to our customers during 2008 and plan to further improve on sales and service quality during 2009 in order for Renault to rank amongst the best in the industry.
At head office we do have a dedicated customer care team, they can be contacted on 0861 RENAULT / 0861 736 2858 or emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org
While many readers reported loving your products, most are disturbed by the high costs of parts and servicing. Why has Renault chosen to adopt a fixed cost structure for its services and maintenance and why are parts so expensive?
As part of our commitment to our customers is to remain as competitive and transparent as possible, Renault participates in the Kinsey Report which is published annually.
The Kinsey Report is regarded by the South African car industry as the definitive parts pricing study. It tracks the prices of a range of parts for 32 popular car models in order to give the public some insight into the comparative costs that can be expected.
The study goes further in that each of the brands under review usually follows a pattern. For example, if one model is competitive, it is fairly safe to expect that most cars in that manufacturer?s range will rate likewise.
In the October 2007 Kinsey report, the Clio was not very competitive so Renault invested considerable time and effort in scrutinising and adjusting the costs. These efforts resulted in a significant decrease in the costs - over 9.5 percentage points and in turn, a decrease in cost of ownership.
When Kinsey re-examined Clio in January 2008 to test the above he also did comparative evaluations for our Megane hatch and Scenic. The results were very positive, with both models ranking in 2nd place in their respective segments.
From the above it is clear that Renault is committed to delivering on competitive parts' prices and ensuring value for money for all our clients. These reports can be viewed on www.renault.co.za.
The fixed price menu is a major advantage for customers, it states the costs of every scheduled service, and is displayed in every dealership. It affords the customer the opportunity to compare our servicing costs with competitors. Transparency is assured, and there are no hidden costs.
Certain critical parts are housed in France and have to be flown to South Africa when required - what are the chances of Renault establishing a local parts warehouse to reduce waiting times?
There is a general misconception that the part lead time for importers is greater than that of local importers. Renault in fact fares favourably when compared to its local competitors.
Renault South Africa has maintained a local parts warehouse since 2002 and an upgrade approximately four years ago, increased its capacity threefold. Renault is currently in the process - with its alliance partner Nissan SA - of increasing its warehouse capacity even further, primarily to meet increasing needs but also to rise to the challenge of being the parts supply leader in the South African automotive industry. Renault currently stocks over 20&NBSP;000 parts' lines and has a substantial investment in stockholding.
All of the above allows Renault to supply immediately from our SA warehouse, an average of 92% of all parts required. As an international organisation, we benchmark ourselves versus our European colleagues and are striving to achieve a 95% parts availability rate by 2009.
To ensure our ongoing competitiveness and to meet the discerning needs of our customers, Renault is committed to delivering parts within three to 10 working days from the date of dealer order. Where we experience a delay in parts supplied from France, as part of our Renault Confiance peace of mind package, we offer our customers a courtesy vehicle to minimize any inconvenience. For more information on Renault Confiance and the terms surrounding these commitments, please visit www.renaultconfiance.co.za.
Renault and its network of dealers are committed to customer satisfaction and part of this commitment is the efficient and timeous supply of parts.
Many readers also lamented Renault's dismal resale values and dealers refusal to accept used models as trade-ins, and when done, the rates offered are significantly lower than expected or commanded. Why is this, especially when buyers are expected to pay the full price for new vehicles?
The retail market is slowing down due to market conditions and all manufactures are facing stock problems. There is, therefore, some reluctance to buy used vehicles presently; however no Renault dealership should ever refuse a trade-in on a new purchase.
To specifically address the resale values of our vehicles, Renault has launched a campaign to encourage current Renault owners to trade-in their vehicles and they are being offered book value plus R5 000. This is an opportunity for our current family of Renault owners to upgrade their Renaults for newer models which have proven to be of the highest quality.
Since your cars are imported completely built up, what can you do to address the quality issues highlighted by many readers?
In 2001, Renault realised that the inherent nature of its products (style, comfort, road holding, safety) would only result in customer satisfaction if backed up with a strong improvement in quality and reliability. Internationally, the company worked hard to deploy a Company Quality Plan. Firm action was taken and positive results achieved in Design, Purchasing, Production and Service. The first project to benefit from these substantial improvements was Modus.
From then, we improved project after project to implement the improvements in the larger production models and we are very encouraged and highly motivated by the results.
Warranty incidents decreased by 25% between 2002 and 2007 (by 50% between 2005 and 2007). Dispersion has been strongly reduced within the range. Every year, ADAC (Germany's equivalent of the AA) publishes a comprehensive study showing statistics on breakdowns. In the last report published in April 2007, ADAC made the following statements:
Renault has made striking improvements in quality?"
"The quality offensive launched by the French in 2003 has been a real success. The number of incidents and breakdowns reported by ADAC has followed a steady downtrend since this date. The results of efforts to improve reliability are particularly remarkable for Modus, whose launch coincided with this quality offensive."
We can also talk about the reliability ranking also published in this study in which Modus is ranked third out of 23 models, Clio III third out of 23 models and Scenic first out of 10 models.
Other large annual European surveys - which we cannot talk about as they contain multi- automakers - confirm the very good positioning of Renault models in terms of quality and reliability.
We have also implemented new road tests and measurements recently in South Africa in order to ensure that our design specifications are adapted to this country conditions and our customers' uses. Renault South Africa is completely dedicated to customer satisfaction and we firmly believe that with all these improvements, our customers will be satisfied. Customer satisfaction is our first priority and we hope that through our continued focus on improvements that we will win back our customers' confidence that we should never have lost.
And what mechanisms will be in place to ensure the locally-manufactured Sandero meets global quality standards?
Sandero specifications are very reliable and tens of prototypes have been tested over millions of kilometres and components used during thousands of hours on the bench. A significant quantity of parts and specifications are common with Logan which is ranked TOP 1 in quality -reliability by customers wherever it is launched.
Sandero will be assembled in South Africa in our alliance partner Nissan SA's plant in Rosslyn and to assure quality, we have made a significant investment in facilities and are busy implementing all the latest Nissan and Renault manufacturing quality standards. We are also developing, in detail, our components with local South African suppliers to ensure that they are at global quality levels. Sandero will only be launched when the ultimate Renault quality levels are achieved.
Chinese manufacturers are expected to flood the sub-R100 000 market shortly, but will Sandero offer enough of a fight for Renault? Will more Logan derivatives be introduced to expand your reach in this important segment?
Sandero will be built according to Renault quality standards and will be the vehicle which was launched in Brazil at the end of last year and which has been a great success since then. Renault has made very significant quality and reliability improvements in the last few years and Sandero will benefit from these. Sandero will target customers looking for a roomy, sturdy and attractive hatchback at a very affordable price.
It will be launched in France and Europe from June this year and in all the countries where it will be commercialised, Sandero with be assembled with the precise same level of quality and processes that Renault uses for all its products.
Today the X90 platform comprises 5 different models including Sandero and Logan. Despite the fact they come from the same platform, Logan and Sandero are different models, designed independently with different attributes targeting different audiences. Renault SA is always investigating market needs and opportunities to grow in the SA market but no plans have been made for Logan.