“In 2018 and 2019, it was a general sell-off”

The president of the Renault dealership group (GCR), Jérôme Daumont, gave his view on the network’s performance in 2022, as well as the commercial and logistical issues it continues to face.

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Jérôme Daumont, President of the Renault Dealers Association (GCR)

The argument

The argument. How did the Renault network overcome this event in 2022?

Jerome Daumont. In terms of financial results and commercial performance, it was an overall satisfactory year, even though it took place in adverse operating conditions. At Renault-Dacia, we are fortunate to benefit from a fairly dynamic product cycle. This is particularly the case with Dacia, which records one of the strongest growths in the market. The relationship between the network and the manufacturer is quite good, it’s even better. The lights are mostly green.

In terms of trade, what are the main issues you face?

We suffer, like all automotive networks, from a lack of visibility in productions and uncertainty in availability. It is complicated for the trade not to know what is possible or not to order from the manufacturer. We are also faced with the reduction of commercial resources and events.

The situation of mixing channels is also not easy to manage. Renault has decided to strongly favor the private channel, which is understandable in the context of the current shortage, but it makes it more difficult to work with fleets and companies. Basic account customers find that prices have gone up, everywhere, for everything. On the other hand, when a customer orders 500 cars from us, including 300 Clios, for example, and we get back to him a few weeks later to inform him that there are only 100 Clios left, he doesn’t understood. We cannot commit ourselves in a firm and definite way to a mix due to production issues. However, the fleet manager has to ensure his fleet, his entries, his exits… It’s not a question of blackening the picture, we won’t complain, but there was blood and tears .

The vehicle delivered does not always match the one ordered.

And logistically, how is the situation evolving?

The logistics of new cars, spare parts, parts sourcing… it’s all a nightmare. We lack information on production times. Upon release, the car delivered does not always match the one ordered, for example with a 7-inch screen instead of 13. At the end of the chain, when the car is manufactured, we find it difficult to accept this in our business and deliver it to customers.

Concessionaires sometimes have to provide some local transportation themselves. How does this alternative look?

In fact, the manufacturer asked us to organize transportation ourselves with more local actors to address capacity gaps. This allows us to recover the cars but does not solve the main problem. Because the volumes are not very large, and especially the prices are not the same as those shown by the main national carriers. The manufacturer supports us financially, but the processes are heavy for support control. Renault has set up a delegation grid. However, it does not take into account all logistics flows in France, and it is too low compared to market prices.

This particular client does not find himself there.

How does the individual customer understand today’s rising prices and rents?

It is always very complicated, and this explains why the order market is not good. The individual cannot find himself there. We are on a renewal frequency of 48 months on average. And it should be noted that in 2018 and 2019 this is the general sale. Between the discounts that went from 15% to 0% and the price of cars that increased by 20%, to which the increase in interest rates was added, for this customer it had to hurt.

Therefore, we see premium customers being asked, for example, to pay now 650 euros per month and not 500 downgrades. Everything has a limit. So we are witnessing a cascading effect that partially explains Dacia’s success.

Does this situation, together with Renault’s strategic repositioning in the C segment, allow you to win new customers?

Regardless of the brand and vehicle we sell, there is always an element of conquest. And it increases even more in new models. At Renault, we see customers coming from Volkswagen, Peugeot and even Mercedes-Benz. We are close to the basket of leading generalist brands. At Dacia, we are taking back the historical customers of Citroën, Ford or Opel.

Finding added value from new automotive ecosystems is one of the main challenges announced by Renault in 2023. Is the network ready and armed with these topics?

The sale of charging stations is growing. The business models is becoming more refined, and we see initiatives emerging. As always, Renault is pushing its in-house solution to distributors. This is the game, somewhat similar to the sale of financing, where the manufacturer is captive on one side and the independent financial partners on the other. Either we sell the manufacturer’s solution, often synonymous with lower margins, or we sell our own, which is more profitable but a potential source of brand friction. But the topic of the terminal is also not central to the relationship with Renault. Regarding our group (Altaïr), today we are playing the manufacturer’s card. Everyone is entering the charging station market, it’s going to be a rat race! And, if we want to establish our position in this business, we must provide the customer with proximity or price, packaging, technology.

Regarding new mobility businesses, through Mobilize in particular, projects are being set but are not yet fully concrete. It is too early to judge what it will represent in terms of turnover and profitability.

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