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Renault Laguna under threat

Endangered species: Renault's Laguna may be replaced by a Korean-made model based on the Nissan Maxima.

Renault poised to axe mid-size Laguna as global recession bites French car-makers

13 Feb 2009

RENAULT is reportedly planning to stop producing its Laguna medium-large car within about three years after yesterday reporting a 78 per cent drop in net profit in 2008.

Also on the chopping block by 2011 are the ageing Espace people-mover and the unsuccessful Vel Satis luxury car – neither of which are sold in Australia – as Renault looks to invest in more fuel-efficient cars such as a Prius hybrid rival.

Although the French car-maker remained in the black for the year – against the industry trend – it announced a further round of redundancies amounting to a reduction of 9000 jobs to 120,000 globally, with half of the losses at home.

Renault’s profit of €599 million was down from €2.73 billion in 2007 and came on a 7.0 per cent decline in sales revenue.

France’s biggest car-maker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, said on Wednesday it would reduce its workforce by 11,000 workers this year to a total of 208,000 after announcing an operating loss of €367 million (compared with a profit the previous year of €1.1 billion) on 4.9 per cent lower sales.

35 center image Although the car-makers have been promised state loans of €3 billion each to deal with the global downturn, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday the package was on condition the two companies would not lay-off French workers or close French plants, so the redundancies are being presented as voluntary buyouts.

According to respected British magazine Autocar, Renault may pull out of the large car market altogether after dumping the Laguna and Vel Satis, but other reports suggest it will source a car from its South Korean subsidiary Samsung, which builds the Koleos SUV.

Autocar said the Sandouville plant in western France would replace production of Vel Satis and Espace (which share the same platform) with commercial vehicles by 2011. Renault said a few months ago it had suspended large car development indefinitely.

Although the third-generation Laguna – which only last June made it to Australia, one year after launch in Europe – will continue to be built alongside the commercial vehicles, the magazine said it will not be replaced when it dies, perhaps as soon as late 2011.

The likely replacement is the Korean-built Samsung SM5, a V6-engined sedan based on the Nissan Maxima, a new generation of which is due around that time.

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