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Savoir Vivre On Wheels

Car maker Renault is the number one automobile import in Germany. Although its track record in breakdown statistics isn't the best, German drivers still love this four-wheeled Frenchman.

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Welcome on Germany's Autobahn: cars from Renault

For over a decade, Renault has by far been the strongest foreign automobile brand on the German market. Last year, the company noted 227 200 new registrations in Germany, 3.1 percent more than in 2001.

According to Reinhard Zirpel, spokesman for Renault-Deutschland, Germany is the most important foreign market for the French parent group. It achieves some 10 percent of total world sales in Germany.

The French manufacturer looks back on a long history in Germany, where Renault has been active for almost 100 years. The first subsidiary was opened in 1907 in Berlin.

Safe and innovative

Renault doesn't have the best track record when it comes to breakdown statistics. But this doesn't seem to put off German buyers. Whether its compact cars or family-sized vans, consumers are choosing Renault.

Zirpel says that safety has become a significant purchase motivation in the past years for Germans. Renault is the only producer where three models have gotten the maximum 5-star rating in the European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash test.

But Renault is also breaking new ground in design. When the company introduced the first mini-van, the Espace, back in 1984 onto the market, both professional and consumer circles were reserved in their reactions. In the first month, only 12 units were sold in Germany.

But the Espace soon developed into an entirely new market segment. All other major car makers have followed in Renault's footsteps and developed their own mini-vans. These models are now found on practically any street in Germany. Renault now sells some 10 000 mini-vans annually in Germany.

Practical Frenchman

The differences between the German and French markets are not serious, says Zirpel.

In Germany, a car's significance is higher than in France. There, customers place more value on an automobile's practical value.

This is one reason why the cars in France are on average smaller than in Germany.

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