Back during the 1980s Renault cars, in alliance with the now defunct American Motors Company [AMC], were sold at American dealers. Once Chrysler purchased AMC, Renault retreated and quit selling cars in the US. A recent announcement by Renault that the U.S. market may once again be a candidate for Renault cars has been met with only tepid enthusiasm by the automotive press. Will Renault return? More importantly: does anyone care?
Renault’s exit from the US during the late 1980s was hardly noticed by most consumers. As makers of the tiny LeCar, the compact Alliance, and the midsize Medallion/Eagle Premier, not much distinguished Renault from the competition.
Today, Renault is quite a different company with a very different outlook and product line. Ever since its purchase of the Nissan Motor Company, Renault’s focus has shifted from a predominately European stage to a global stage. With Nissan technology incorporated into many current vehicles, Renault quality and reliability levels have risen. This is good news as Renault previously was criticized in the US for building poorly made cars. Better made cars than AMC, but not rising to the quality level that many had expected.
Press reports indicate that Renault will tackle the Chinese market first before even considering the US…if ever. Is it because Americans remember the poorly made Renault products of the past that is behind the company’s hesitancy to reenter the market? Or, could it be Renault’s perception that America doesn’t much like the French right now?
We don’t know for sure, but I am guessing that it is a little bit of both. Regardless, a high quality affordable Renault automobile would be a welcome change to the junk sold here a generation ago. Let’s hope that Renault has learned a valuable lesson from Nissan on how to build and sell a top quality product. If so, then bring them here.