Latest stories declare that Renault, through its Alpine sub-brand, might return to the U.S. market someday earlier than the tip of the last decade. Those self same stories notice that Renault final bought vehicles right here within the States in 1987, however that is a) not for lack of making an attempt, and b) probably not the case, contemplating U.S. automobile consumers have been shopping for Renaults virtually the whole time since.
As Automotive Information reported final week, Laurent Rossi, the CEO of Alpine, plans to extend the sub-brand’s gross sales quantity and product portfolio from the three,500 Alpine 110s that it bought final 12 months to greater than 150,000 examples of not less than three fashions by 2030. “We wish to go to the U.S., which is able to create the majority of the additional quantity,” he stated. Whereas Rossi has plans to introduce a small EV resurrecting the Renault 5 mannequin title in Europe, his U.S. plans center around a midsize electric crossover and a bigger electrical crossover to be launched someday in 2027 or 2028.
Eagle Medallion 1989 Advert USA “Count on The Finest”
When did Renault depart the U.S. market?
The Automotive Information article makes notice of Renault’s partial possession of AMC that ended when Chrysler purchased the latter in 1987 but in addition claims Renault fashions have been final bought within the U.S. within the early Nineteen Nineties. Each are true.
Renault began exporting vehicles to the US earlier than World Battle I however gross sales of its luxurious vehicles had slacked even earlier than the onset of the Despair, and Renault did not re-establish itself within the States till the introduction of the Caravelle and Dauphine, the latter of which regularly got here near eclipsing the Volkswagen Beetle’s U.S. gross sales figures within the late Fifties and early Sixties. The French carmaker took third run on the U.S. market in 1979 when it entered an agreement with AMC to promote its vehicles via the latter’s dealership community. That settlement led Renault to take a 22.5 % curiosity in AMC the next 12 months, which Renault expanded to 46.4 % in 1982.
The partnership ended up benefiting each events. Renault bought to promote Jeeps in Europe. AMC netted an enormous infusion of money from Renault and was capable of spend money on its Brampton Meeting Plant in Canada. The 2 automakers even started to collaborate on design, engineering, and product improvement, ensuing within the Renix gasoline injection system for Jeeps and the Renault Alliance compact front-wheel-drive sedan. Below Georges Besse’s management, the French government-owned Renault started to show a revenue, with AMC proper on its heels.
Whereas some sources level to Besse’s assassination in November 1986 in Paris as the primary motive why Renault determined to promote AMC and Jeep to Chrysler, Besse and Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca had already began speaking about cooperative ventures (leading to AMC constructing some Chrysler vehicles in Brampton) and the potential for extra as early because the spring of 1986. Besse and Iacocca’s dialogue about promoting AMC to Chrysler even took on a codename, Undertaking Titan, based on Pat Foster’s “American Motors Corporation: The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker.”
The sale proceeded in March 1987 with the stipulation that Chrysler would promote the Renault 21-based Medallion – which went on sale as a Renault simply eight days earlier than the sale – for 5 years. Chrysler basically left it alone for the 1988 mannequin 12 months, rebadged it as an Eagle for the 1989 mannequin 12 months, then discontinued it altogether. The Alliance, regardless of early stories that Chrysler would proceed to promote it and regardless of the existence of press kits for a 1988 mannequin 12 months Alliance, got here to an finish in June 1987. The Encore, Le Automotive, and different Renault fashions bought through AMC dealerships, had all been discontinued effectively earlier than the Chrysler buy.
Renault’s Chrysler LH legacy
That is to not say Renault vanished totally from the American market within the late Eighties. AMC and Renault had for a number of years been engaged on the Giugiaro-designed, Renault 25-based Premier full-size sedan, and pre-production prototypes have been noticed with Renault badging. As with the Medallion, Chrysler’s buy settlement additionally stipulated that the corporate would proceed to promote the Premier not less than via 1992, with a minimal gross sales determine of 300,000 over that five-year interval, so Chrysler put an Eagle badge on it and bought 117,000 Premieres – plus one other 21,000 badge-engineered Dodge Monacos – via 1992. (In line with some stories, components bearing the Renault brand might be discovered on Premieres via the 1989 mannequin 12 months.)
Even then, that wasn’t the final of Renault. The Premier’s chassis, full with its longitudinal front-wheel-drive structure, had been designed beneath Francois Castaing when he served as AMC’s head of product engineering and improvement, and he was detest to let it expire so quickly, so when he transitioned to Chrysler’s vice presidency of engineering, Castaing made positive the Premier lived on as the basis for Chrysler’s lineup of LH “cab-forward” cars. The chassis packaging, the suspension, and the entire arduous factors grew to become the idea for the LH platform, which underpinned various Chrysler merchandise, amongst them the Eagle Imaginative and prescient, the Chrysler Concorde/New Yorker/LHS, the Dodge Intrepid, and later, the Chrysler 300M. The LH vehicles rolled off the identical Brampton platform, and Chrysler’s prototypes even ran round disguised as Premieres.
(We’ll notice right here that Castaing and Renault engineers additionally had a hand within the improvement of not simply the Jeep XJ Cherokee but in addition the Jeep ZJ Grand Cherokee, two SUVs broadly heralded for his or her European influences on their introductions. Credit score for the previous, nonetheless, goes to Roy Lunn and Bob Nixon whereas the latter is commonly attributed to Castaing and Larry Shinoda, and neither was primarily based on a Renault platform.)
Definitely, not one of the Premier’s or LH vehicles’ components carried Renault logos anymore, however robust Renault affect on vehicles bought on American soil remained unbroken via the tip of LH manufacturing within the 2004 mannequin 12 months.
Re-introduced as Nissans
Renault actually wasn’t being profitable on the LH vehicles, so it began to eye a return to the U.S. market as early as 1999, this time via one other alliance: the one it entered into with Nissan that 12 months. As reported not long after the alliance was announced in March 1999, Renault executives had deliberate to promote its vehicles within the United Acknowledged badged as Nissans. Louis Schweitzer, chairman and chief government of Renault, advised reporters that Renault had no plans to make use of Nissan’s meeting vegetation in Tennessee, however “you might discover a product (in the US) that appears like a Renault, however they might be known as Nissans.”
That report predicted the alliance would repay as early as 2003 with collectively developed vehicles rolling off the identical meeting line. That would not really occur till 2006, when Nissan launched the Versa and the Sentra, with the latter constructed on the Nissan/Renault C platform (the identical platform that underpinned the Renault Megane II) and the previous driving a stretched model of the Nissan/Renault C platform (the identical that underpinned the Renault Clio III). Quite a lot of different Nissan merchandise bought in the US since then – together with the Dice, the Juke, the Rogue, and the Murano – have used one in every of a number of widespread chassis designed by Renault and Nissan.
In fact, none of these autos have carried the Renault diamond brand on their grilles, and it stays to be seen whether or not the Alpines deliberate for later this decade really arrive for a fourth run of Renaults within the States. Or is that fifth? Sixth? We’re about to lose depend right here.