Although Renault had no immediate plans to establish a car production plant in South Africa, the manufacturer hoped to import Indian-built versions of the entry-level Logan model, Renault SA managing director Roland Bouchara said recently.

Although Renault had no immediate plans to establish a car production plant in South Africa, the manufacturer hoped to import Indian-built versions of the entry-level Logan model, Renault SA managing director Roland Bouchara said recently.


CARtoday.com reported recently that Nissan SA announced it would not extend its manufacturing agreement contract with Fiat Auto SA beyond July 2008. Fiat Auto SA currently shares Nissan's production facilities in Rosslyn and has produced 55 000 vehicles - including Uno, Palio and Siena models - since the inception of the contract.


The news prompted some industry insiders to say that due to Nissan's global affiliation with Renault, it was also possible that the French brand may have plans to produce the Logan, touted as an affordable new car to emerging markets around the world, in Rosslyn.


However, Bouchara yesterday said Renault had no such plans and was currently setting up plants in Iran and India. Renault recently concluded an agreement with Indian manufacturer Mahindra to produce right-hand drive versions of the low-cost Logan.


"We hope SA will be able to import the car from India. As MD of Renault SA, I will be very happy to see that happen because I am sure the Logan will be a success here," quoted Bouchara as saying.


The R1,1 billion joint venture, in which Renault holds 49 per cent and Mahindra 51 per cent, would build the Logan from the beginning of 2007.


"The car has proved popular in western Europe. We have sold 15 000 units since the beginning of this year," Bouchara said, adding that if the Logan found its way to South Africa, it would be sold through the existing Renault dealerships.


The Logan saloon is the first model in the budget car range and other body styles including estate, MPV and pick-up versions will be launched in 2007. The four-door saloon will initially be offered with 1,4-litre 55 kW and 1,6-litre 70 kW petrol engines and a 78 kW 1,6-litre 16-valve petrol engine, as well as a 48 kW 1,5-litre dCi diesel unit, will be added later.


Based on the new B platform used for the Nissan Micra, Renault Modus and the upcoming third-generation Clio, about 550 of the 1 300 parts are carried-over from existing models.


At the Logan's launch in 2004, Renault said the adoption of the "design-to-cost" method, use of common parts, and the application of digital design in developing Logan had made it easier to keep to the programme costs down.


The Logan is built using traditional types of steel and its design can reportedly be easily adapted to production methods and equipment at planned production sites. Bodywork contours were kept to a minimum to simplify the manufacturing tooling, make the stamping and assembly processes more reliable, and restrict costs. Also, the rear-view mirrors and protective mouldings were designed for use on the left- and right-hand side of the vehicle.


Meanwhile, Bouchara said Renault was spreading its local dealership network and planned to increase its dealerships from last year's 42 to 60 by the end of this year.


The investment in new dealerships would see the French company take advantage of the upswing in the local vehicle market to increase its market share.


Bouchara added that the company wanted to increase its market share in the passenger-car market from the current 5,5 per cent to 7 per cent in two years' time. "