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The Beyond Branding blog

November 15, 2005

Renault, car manufacturer of the year 

Quite often, we diss here at the Beyond Branding Blog for not being socially responsible. But every now and then, there is a brand that does reasonably well at the old stuff.
   Right now, it's . It has managed to share platforms with its subsidiary, making that loss-making Japanese company into a global winner. It took home the manufacturers’ championship this year. And today, III won the European award.
   The has recovered from being a sad part of the French government in the early 1980s, when it was churning out cars like the 9, and trying to flog them in America as the Renault Alliance. was the name of the game, thinking that making domestic appliances and calling them cars was a route to
   But Renault has succeeded because it has read customers well—seeing that it was a greater risk to take no risks, in the words of boss . I never appreciated that till recently, now that Renault has the most distinctive range in the world. It is easier to be distinct and take an earlier risk in development than to be same again, and take a later risk on the sales’ charts.
   It took this -led, rather than -led, model into Nissan, which was essentially when the French moved in in 1999. People though the French had gone nuts. But through a bit of -taking, and proper follow-up by their own man, , installed at Nissan, the $5 billion worked. There is a blurring between roles at Nissan, and at Renault, where levels aren’t as divisive as they once were. And that works horizontally, too, between France and .
   Renault does have a corporate programme but here is where it just reads like lip-service, on the official site: ‘Renault has acquired the means to become a key world player in , expressing ambition that fits closely with the group's strategy of profitable growth.’
   The programme reads like any European manufacturer’s, where Renault promises harmonious relationships with host communities, provides mobility for its clients, and pays attention to its impact.
   I don’t doubt its intentions, but I would love for Renault to use its latest successes and push this side of the business. To take no risk here is a grave risk—because one automaker has to be first in making the move and tell customers, ‘We care about the same things you do.’
   The company has some excellent programmes buried within its CSR site, such as ‘job placement for disadvantaged young people’ in Flins, France, and a partnership to start a technical college in Brazil. ‘In Turkey, Renault is a participant in a programme designed to teach children lifesaving measures for earthquakes,’ it reads.
   These seem more genuine than complying with EU laws on recycling a at the end of its life—because they play a huge part in the communities in which Renault is involved. They also impact on the way the company makes . And it makes me feel better driving a Renault myself.
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