Paris Auto Show 2016: The DS Experience

ds-key-ring-detail-paris-2016Part of the unique DS Experience: the personalised key ring… 

I’ve kept the best for last. To close on our coverage of this year’s Paris Auto Show, we will go through the DS Experience. I have written some pretty harsh things on DS in the past few years, as their Citroen’s standalone brand initiative hasn’t been met with frank success, either in France and Europe or in China where the adventure originally started. Far from riding the SUV wave there, DS has launched the 5 LS sedan and 4S hatchback… Yet the Paris Auto Show 2016 had to be where DS could stand out, if it was up for the challenge.

And, to my great surprise, DS was up to the challenge.

1955-ds-launchCitroen DS launch at the 1955 Paris Auto Show. 

It all started with a mysterious message from the DS PR department saying that there wouldn’t be any DS Press Conferences or single interviews at the Auto Show, rather a voyage through the “DS Experience” that could be booked at certain time slots. Dubious, I presented myself at the agreed time in a darkened DS stand, the only one in the Show that worked as an actual building with different, closed spaces and low ceilings. I was expecting a “Tour group” and one DS rep taking us quickly through the different spaces with a few lines of explanations. How wrong was I. The visit was exclusive, took over 50 minutes and I was the only guest – proudly realising how far Best Selling Cars Blog has gone since its creation six years ago…

Action speaks louder than words, and DS has done more at the Paris Auto Show 2016 to cement its French prestige positioning than anything it has said in the past two years that the brand exists.

Let’s experience DS now…

1970-citroen-sm1970 Citroen SM

First up is Arnaud Ribault, International Marketing Director for DS, who I interviewed at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. “Every member of the DS Executive Committee will meet you throughout this exclusive visit. We start with the heritage area, featuring the 1955 Citroen DS, but also its sister the 1970 Citroen SM, taking the hydraulic suspension innovation even further and the emblematic expression of the luxury car of the time. Its maximum speed is 220 km/h with its Maserati engine. For us, both the DS and the SM are the alliance of refinement and avant-garde. This is the part of our heritage that we are building on with the Performance series and the E-Tense Concept that you will both discover shortly.

BSCB: Is the addition of the SM into the heritage of the DS brand something new?

Arnaud Ribault: The SM has always been part of our heritage but it is true that we are bringing it a little more to the forefront as we present concepts like the E-Tense which are a lot more performance-driven.

thierry-metroz-paris-2016DS Director of Design Thierry Metroz

The next Member of the DS Executive Committee to conduct this exclusive DS voyage is Director of Design Thierry Metroz, and the presentation seamlessly transitions into a style study. “What we keep from the DS heritage in the style area is its avant-garde spirit. A very important caveat to this and something I absolutely forbid my teams and myself from doing is retro-design. What is an avant-garde spirit? It’s breaking codes all the while looking into the future. If I had to summarise the DS style in one word I would say “Hypnotic”. It’s cars that will be eye-catching and that we will memorise instantly. The DS style is an alchemy of exceptional tailor-made savoir-faire with avant-garde spirit and technological performance.”

BSCB: You always keep this atelier with artisanal tailor-making of fabrics on your stands?

Thierry Metroz: Always. It’s at the heart of our DNA. What DS really is is this mix of two worlds: technological and somewhat futuristic performance with artisan savoir-faire. Important to this are all the links we have with the French maisons de haute-couture. For example, we worked with the Maison Le Sage, the most prestigious embroidery expert in the world, on the 2014 Divine Concept car. Through our exchanges, we influenced and inspired each other and they created new embroidery processes inspired from the E-Tense grille which we created with parametric design, a numeric method that enables new shapes through 3D-Printing. They in turn created a specific embroidery through 3-D Printing for the Maison Chanel, all this through processes coming from the automotive world. This really shows that we speak the same language, we get better by working together and it’s a very rich and exciting process.

ds-tailored-interiorPersonalised DS5 interior

We are taking this artisan leadership further this year in Paris as we open a service called “Commande Speciale” (Special Order) which is a style offering that will be exclusive to DS. We create a tailor-made vehicle based on their wishes, needs and dreams. I personally meet each client at the DS World in Paris. This person comes with their ideas, photos, textures, inspirations, they can come from any country in the world. We define the framework together, then I meet the person again at the Design Centre where we can show them samples for approval.

BSCB: Is there a limited choice for colours, textures, leathers?

Thierry Metroz: It’s almost infinite. The only two limits we have are safety – we must respect all safety elements in the vehicle – and bad taste…

ds-interior-detail-paris-2016Personalised DS5 interior (detail)

BSCB: Bad taste is a little complicated to define?

Thierry Metroz: We want to please our clients. If the person comes to us with ideas such as for example light blue paint with small pink stars, blue butterflies and interior made of pink fur, I will try and influence their choice to remove at least the stars and the fur (laughs). This is my role as a design consultant. But whatever they still want to do in the end, we’ll create it of course.

What you see here is the first personalised car we have done (pictures above and below). The main work was on the interior, with leather motifs and colours applied to a lot of different details such as the key ring. This braided leather for example does not exist anywhere on our lineup, this is specific to this model. There will not be a second model like this, ever. It’s a unique example. The green colour is inspired from the E-Tense concept car as our client really loved that specific green.

ds-interior-detail-paris-2016bPersonalised DS5 interior (detail)

ds-suit-compartment-paris-2016Personalised DS5 suit compartment (detail)

BSCB: How much more does it cost to get your car personalised like this?

Thierry Metroz: This specific car has a base price of 45.000€ and the exterior paint as well as all the interior design colours, rugs, unique gear shift leather, unique luggage assorted to the car, etc cost 25.000€ for an end price of 70.000€. In the premium universe it’s still a reasonable price, and this is a unique vehicle. It takes around 6 months to create from the first meeting with the client to the delivery of the car.

ds-e-tense-paris-2016DS E-Tense Concept 

We now transition to Eric Apode, DS Head of Product, Strategy and International Development, who leads me to the technology area of the DS stand. “I hope you have enjoyed the experience so far. For us it’s important to make yet another step towards luxury. We are very proud to be able to offer personalised and unique cars at DS. Two years ago we have decided to get involved in Formula E racing. We finished third for our first season. The team that works on the Formula E works within DS to make sure all learnings are integrated in our future products.

DS WILD RUBYLet’s hope the future global SUV by DS will be inspired from the Wild Rubis concept…

Eric Apode: “Our strategy relies on three points: 1. We are committed to high performance hybrid electric. 2. This means that all our new models will be offered either a hybrid or electric or both. 3. With our 2nd wave of vehicles we are launching our first PHEV: it will be the first global SUV for the DS brand.

BSCB: How will this SUV be positioned vs. the DS 6 currently on sale in China?

Eric Apode: It will also be launched in China where it will coexist with the DS 6 with which it won’t compete.

ds-virtual-garage-1-picture-courtesy-largus-fr ds-virtual-garage-2-picture-courtesy-largus-frDS Virtual Garage. Picture courtesy largus.fr 

BSCB: Will you call is DS 7, 8, 9?

Eric Apode: Further elements will be revealed to you in the coming months, even under torture I am not able to give this piece of information to you right now (laughs).
Another element I wanted to show you is our new Virtual configuration tool, DS Virtual Garage. With this 3D tool you will be able to personalise your DS (body paint colour, leather, trims, etc) in every DS Store from 2017 onwards. This is a World First as no other car manufacturer currently offers this service. Car connectivity is also very important to us. Today 70% of our customers buy a connected car, 90% in China. We already have over 200.000 connected cars on the roads. I will now pass the relay to Yves Bonnefont our CEO…

Continue the DS Experience with CEO Yves Bonnefont below.

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Paris Auto Show 2016: 10 takeouts

peugeot-5008-paris-2016-2The Peugeot stand at the Paris Auto Show was dedicated to SUVs.

The Paris Auto Show 2016 is over: it just closed its doors on Sunday with a disappointing total attendance – down 14% on 2014 to 1.072.697 – but a lot more new launches than two years ago and faultless wifi access all throughout the Show. Before we go into the last set of interviews covering the stunning DS Experience I had the privilege to enjoy at the Show, here are 10 takeouts in no particular order nor importance. A shamelessly subjective selection of elements that have grabbed my attention during the Press Conferences and while wandering the aisles.

1. Peugeot finally jumps head first into the SUV world

There was one word on the lips of all Peugeot officials at the Show: SUV. And it’s about time. Just as the world craze for this type of vehicle is getting more screamingly loud every day, Peugeot unveiled both the 3008 and the 5008 at the Show, instantly forming a solid all-terrain-looking family along with the facelifted 2008. Exterior design and interior materials are in frank progress compared to the first generations of both nameplates but there are still a few nitty gritty frustrations such as a decidedly cheap adjustment metal bar under each seat.

peugeot-3008-dkr-paris-2016Peugeot 3008 DKRpeugeot-3008-interior-paris-2016-2Peugeot 3008 interior detail peugeot-3008-interior-paris-2016Peugeot 3008 interiorpeugeot-5008-interior-paris-2016Peugeot 5008 – Cavernous storage box just below the central console.peugeot-5008-interior-paris-2016-2Peugeot 5008 interior detail

toyota-wrc-paris-2016Toyota unveiled the Yaris WRC at the Paris Auto Show with Tommi Makinen

2. Toyota comes with a new personality

Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, was bubbly, warm and funny during the entire Toyota Press Conference, successively unveiling the new Yaris WRC, Toyota’s Microsoft partnership win WRC, introducing Tommi Makinen, the head of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC, describing the brand’s progress in the autonomous driving field – a subject rarely touched before by Toyota in official communication – and talking up the much-awaited C-HR crossover, already available to order in Europe. All of this in the space of 15 minutes in a speech that was impeccably timed, tuned and delivered. Who said Toyota was beige?

toyota-c-hr-paris-2016Toyota C-HRtoyota-100-million-cars-paris-2016Toyota celebrates 100 million cars worldwide.

maybach-vision-6-paris-2016-1

3. Maybach shines with the Vision 6 Concept

Although not its first appearance – it was unveiled last August at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 did stop me in my tracks. It is a bewitching mix of Jessica Rabbit, a 1930 vaporous period car and an incredibly futuristic panther about to pounce. I want one.

maybach-vision-6-concept-paris-2016-2

skoda-kodiaq-paris-2016-aSkoda Kodiaq

4. Skoda punches above its weight with the Kodiaq

Skoda has stepped up one more notch with the Kodiaq, whose interior happily bears the comparison with any Volkswagen. Two thumbs up once again for the Czech brand now rightly aiming at a U.S. market launch. All mass market brands should be worried, very worried indeed.

skoda-kodiaq-interior-paris-2016Skoda Kodiaq interiorskoda-kodiaq-paris-2016-bSkoda Kodiaq

opel-ampera-e-paris-2016Opel Ampera e 

5. Opel morphs into a green brand with the Ampera e

Impossible not to notice the jungle-looking Opel stand at the Paris Auto Show, proudly pushing the 500km+ autonomy per charge of the Ampera e. Also new is the Mokka X.

opel-mokka-x-paris-2016Opel Mokka X

vw-id-concept-paris-2016

6. Volkswagen keeps a low profile with the ID

A year ago in Frankfurt Volkswagen was shining bright. Since, it has been hit by – and is still reeling from – a now infamous emissions scandal. In Paris, VW kept a low profile with no new model unveiled and opted to look into the (far away) future with the electric ID Concept, which won’t hit the road before 2020. Disappointing.

kia-rio-paris-2016

7. Kia gets more European with the Rio

Kia is targeting 500.000 annual sales in Europe by 2018 and is counting on the all-new Rio to get there. It’s an attractive package that should hit the mark but the staged and awkward mock-interview Press Conference introducing it didn’t help one bit.

kia-500000-paris-2016Objective 500.000 sales in Europe for Kia.

tesla-model-x-paris-2016-1Tesla Model X interior: a true 6 seater.

8. Open doors at Tesla

Last April at the Beijing Auto Show, access to the new Tesla Model X was restricted to “actual owners” even during the Press Days. In Paris, it was open doors at the Tesla stand and the Model X could be explored in all its splendour. Impressive.

tesla-model-x-paris-2016-2Tesla Model X front seat detail

mitsubishi-gt-phev-concept-paris-2016Mitsubishi GT PHEV Concept 

9. Mitsubishi drives on the confronting design road

No one told Mitsubishi that their design direction is confronting to say the least, so they continue on that dangerous road with the GT PHEV Concept, while mentioning in passing that the Outlander was the best-selling PHEV in Europe both over the FY2015 and so far in 2016.

mitsubishi-outlander-phev-sales-paris-2016Mitsubishi stressed the fact that the Outlander is the best-selling PHEV in Europe.

fiat-tipo-paris-2016Fiat Tipo

10. The Fiat Tipo’s console has a touch screen

Random fact? Not so. Starting at 12.900€, the Tipo isn’t a low-cost car per se but almost, and competes with the likes of the Citroen C-Elysée. And when the screen on the 65.000€ Mercedes C-Class Coupe can only be controlled with a paddle near the arm rest, requiring your eyes to leave the road for dangerous seconds, the Fiat Tipo boasts a touch screen. Granted, Chinese cars half this price also do have touch screens, but in Europe it’s a rarity. Well done Fiat.

Paris Auto Show 2016: BSCB interviews Laurens Van Den Acker

laurens-van-den-acker-paris-2016Mandatory selfie with Renault’s Design guru Laurens Van Den Acker.  

After the Beijing Auto Show last April, we meet again with Laurens Van Den Acker, Head of Design at Renault since 2009, this time in Paris. Despite his prestigious title, Laurens once again strikes with his self-depreciating humour and is a long way from taking himself seriously. A short but sweet interview.

BSCB: Nice shoes!

Laurens Van Den Acker: Thanks! I try to match the shoes with the model we present. The nicer the shoes, the happier I am with the model, so you can guess I am very happy with the Trezor!

lvda-shoes-paris-2016Laurens Van Den Acker wore Trezor-branded sneakers at the Paris Auto Show. 

BSCB: Now that you have redesigned the entire Renault lineup, what models are you the most proud of?

Laurens Van Den Acker: The Scenic is our latest launch and as the completion of a six-year design cycle I am very proud of it. The Clio was also a great step because it was the first model to be redesigned with the new philosophy we introduced with the Dezir Concept six years ago. But the Talisman may be the one I’m the most proud of: you can park it next to any premium car and have nothing to be ashamed of, this to me is a great achievement for Renault.

renault-scenic-paris-2016Renault Scenic 

BSCB: How do you describe the new direction you are taking the Renault brand in with the Trezor?

Laurens Van Den Acker: This was a little delicate because we didn’t need nor want to start from scratch again, but at the same time there was not the surprise effect of the Dezir that kind of came out of nowhere and stunned everyone. This is a second cycle, it may sound a bit boring but our style is maturing and renewing itself with a lot more depth and sophistication. We may now be able to do what the Germans are doing: build our style on existing foundations. They build the first storey, then the second and make their style evolve. We are now in this position with an established style that we can now build on. When you radically change design directions at each generation, you never get the chance to build anything. For a French marque, the fact that we aren’t doing a design revolution is almost a revolution in itself.

renault-alaskan-paris-2016Renault Alaskan 

BSCB: I’m seeing the Renault Alaskan pickup for the first time in the metal here, has there been a lot of design work on it to adapt from the Nissan Navara on which it’s based?

Laurens Van Den Acker: Basically only the front of the pickup is redesigned, the rest is the Nissan Navara, which is actually not a bad starting point in itself at all. I think that at the end of the day the vehicle is quite homogenous which is an achievement because to be completely honest French marques are not pickup truck specialists. This is a segment where it is extremely difficult to gain credibility. See in the U.S. for example even for Toyota and Nissan are struggling because customers are really faithful to their trusted local brand, more so than in any other segment. So for the Alaskan’s design to be homogenous and liked is already a very good step.

BSCB: In Latin America where you are launching it first, Renault already has a solid reputation, so this may make things a little easier?

Laurens Van Den Acker: That’s exactly right. Latin America is our best bet, because we have been present for over fifty years. In fact, in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia where the Alaskan is being launched, it’s Renault’s second pickup truck along with the Duster Oroch but also the brand’s flagship as the Talisman, Espace or the Koleos aren’t sold there.

renault-alaskan-interior-paris-2016Renault Alaskan interior. The Alaskan is Renault’s flagship model in Latin America. 

Paris 2016 / Citroen: Being different means not everyone will like us

citroen-c3-paris-2016-4Citroen C3

At the Paris Auto Show 2016 I had the privilege of interviewing Richard Meyer, Director of Future Products at Citroen France.

BSCB: Is your market positioning changing with the new generation C3?

Richard Meyer: Our objective with the new C3 is to offer a vehicle positioned at the heart of the B-Segment but with a peculiar response, that of Citroen. We are looking to challenge the rules of the automotive world and in particular the B-Segment, hence a unique morphology for the new model and extremely varied personalisation options, something that is very new on this segment. Add to this a series of innovations featured in the vehicle, such as the connected cam (an on-board camera positioned atop the windshield), all the while respecting the new design direction of Citroen. We want the C3 to be immediately perceived as a Citroen.

BSCB: Is the C3 a conquest vehicle for Citroen or do you primarily target Citroen owners?

Richard Meyer: This is for us a very strategic vehicle that replaces the current C3, of which 3.5 million units were sold. So obviously one of our objectives is of customer loyalty and this vehicle answers the expectations of our current customers in terms of safety, comfort, ease of use and versatility. It is also aimed at conquering customers outside of the brand, notably through the personalisation options that bring a lot of novelty and freshness to the segment.

citroen-c3-interior-paris-2016-2

citroen-c3-interior-paris-2016-1Citroen C3 interior details 

BSCB: If you had to choose between customer loyalty and conquest for the C3, which would it be?

Richard Meyer: We have chosen not to choose between the two and aim at both.

BSCB: Where would the conquest be coming from: what marques do you consider Citroen competing with in the market?

Richard Meyer: Citroen is a “People-minded brand” (in English during the interview), so our approach starts from customers. We are looking to really understand the customers we are speaking with, what are their expectations and habits, and then make sure we are meeting theses expectations, rather than hunt on the territory of such and such brand.

citroen-cxperience-conceptCitroen Cxperience Concept 

BSCB: You unveiled the Cxperience Concept at the Show. What production-ready elements does it showcase?

Richard Meyer: The C-Xperience Concept’s objective is to demonstrate how to unfold the brand’s positioning, its creativity, its audacity, an international angle on the large sedan segment. We are focusing on two major elements: first the design, here too challenging the habitual codes for this segment with for example its two-tiered light signature at the front of the vehicle, but also the mobile elements placed on the body to optimise aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The second element revolves around comfort, through the Citroen Advanced Comfort program, whose objective is to find efficient and smart comfort solutions to answer our customers’ expectations in that domain.

We have a very modern approach of comfort, through of course suspension systems but also everyday pragmatism and connectivity. C-Xperience illustrates some of the solutions we are currently working on, including a much larger digital interface, “wrapping” sound system through the seats and enhanced connectivity with a new app called “Share with you” enabling all passengers of a vehicle to seamlessly share music playlists and data between their smartphones and with the central console of the vehicle. These are a few axis of digital continuity we are developing to improve the well-being of our customers inside our vehicles.

Citroen C4 Cactus France March 2015. Picture courtesy of largus.frCitroen C4 Cactus 

BSCB: Two years ago, the C4 Cactus inaugurated the new creative technology motto of the brand with a controversial design. Commercially speaking it is still finding its groove. What could have been done better?

Richard Meyer: The C4 Cactus is an extremely important vehicle for us: it is the emblem of the new positioning of the brand, of its new philosophy and promise of “Be Different, Feel Good”. It has indeed introduced a very strong and unique design language that has challenged the rules. We are 100% inside the Citroen philosophy. In terms of comfort and well-being, it has smarts that simplify everyday life. Having said that it is a polarising vehicle. Our philosophy as an international brand at the heart of the market is to offer asperities. When trying to please everyone you end up with average vehicles that may struggle to be really successful. Our objective, clearly, is to please as many people as possible, but while doing that we accept that we may displease more people than the average manufacturer. There is a subtle tuning to find, because it is not the same depending on the segment and the regions of the world where we are selling. Nevertheless we want to offer world vehicles, so this is a challenge we have accepted. With the new C3 I think we have found the right tuning.

Paris 2016: BSCB interviews Stéphane Janin, Renault Trezor designer

renault-trezor-paris-auto-show-2016Renault Trezor

Two weeks ago I had the honour of interviewing Stéphane Janin, designer of the much-acclaimed Renault Trezor concept unveiled at the Paris Auto Show 2016.

BSCB: What does the Trezor show that will inform Renault’s future models?

Stéphane Janin: The Trezor is a true concept car, meaning we won’t be launching a similar car in two years for example. It’s a little bit like a sculpture, a work of art so to speak. On the other hand, it does represent what Renault wants to do in the future in terms of design. If you remember the Renault Dezir six years ago when Laurens Van Den Acken started at Renault, it was a revolution as we then announced a new style for all our vehicles that got applied to our entire lineup all the way up to today. The Trezeor is at the crossroads between our completely redesigned lineup – the youngest in Europe – and the new cycle of models we are about to launch. So Trezor has two roles: first to celebrate the past six years and second to start to project us into the next renewal of our lineup.

renault-trezor-stephane-janin-paris-2016With Stéphane Janin and the Renault Trezor at the Paris Auto Show 

Design-wise, it’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution which means refinement and restraint. The Trezor remains within the Renault spirit, there is no breakage. From afar we keep our sensual shapes, but as we get closer there is a lot of innovation, with some more conceptual than others and some that we may develop into production. This is how we should read Trezor.

renault-trezor-front-paris-2016Renault Trezor front light signature 

BSCB: Understood. What are the main innovations showcased in the Trezor?

Stéphane Janin: Firstly the Trezor has an electric engine, illustrating Renault’s will to succeed in this world. Secondly in terms of design, all our light signatures show directions we would like to keep: at the front we still have our diamond-shaped logo with two “C” on each side which are ultra-purified. In the future we believe designs must be associated with a brand at first sight so we are working towards very distinctive design elements on our cars. At the back, we have a very experimental system made of lasers – why not try and adapt this to production?

renault-trezor-back-paris-2016Renault Trezor taillight detail: the shape changes depending on the action (braking, etc…)

BSCB: So the taillights are made of laser?

Stéphane Janin: Yes, in fact these are new generation optical fibres which have the particularity of reflecting a lot of light laterally – usually optical fibres have a linear pointed trajectory, not multidirectional. At the end of the fibre inside the car’s body we have lasers that fuel the light. The interesting bit is that these taillights are mobile, dynamic. Today in a normal car when you brake only the intensity of the light changes. With Trezor the shape of the taillight changes. This is very experimental but style-wise this is something we can adapt in production.

As far as the interior of the car goes, the whole interface behind the wheel is a tactile tablet ergonomically designed for the car world, and that’s also something we would like to push into production. At the moment with Talisman and Espace we have a vertical tablet, this one has a L-shape that we’d like to explore. The verticality suits navigation well, but we would like to add an horizontal element above it.

renault-trezor-opening-paris-2016

BSCB: Everyone is talking about the whole upper body opening of the Trezor – is it elytra-style opening?

Stéphane Janin: I’m not sure how to call it but it is modelled on the aviation industry: the Trezor opens like the cockpit of a fighter jet such as the Dassault Rafale or Lockheed Martin F-22. The entire upper half of the car opens up. There is a lot of symbolism in it, as a concept car it tells a story. The Trezor is a little like a jewel box that you open, discovering the “Trezor” inside a red velvet-inspired interior (trésor is French for treasure).

The other very symbolic elements are the way you have to step over the side to get into the car, the same way a Formula 1 pilot does into his vehicle, and the “barchetta” shape of the car inspired by the stylistically inspiring era of the 1960s, along with the imagery of “jumping” inside the car to step in. We really liked this approach because in our sensual design philosophy there is the notion of touching the car, a little bit like mounting a motorbike. We invite people to touch Trezor: the interior leather runs towards the exterior of the car, like a horse saddle. The link to horse riding can also be done: it’s almost like an animal we are riding and are in direct contact with.

We have tried to go beyond just a beautiful object that we look at just like in a museum. We have looked for something more intimate, more sensual.

alpine-vision-conceptAlpine Vision Concept 2016 – one of the main absent vehicles at Paris 2016.

BSCB: One of the biggest surprises of this Paris Auto Show is the absence of the new Alpine. How is the Trezor positioned vs. the Alpine?

Stéphane Janin: Good question. There is no competition with Alpine simply because it is a different brand, it’s not a Renault Alpine. So it doesn’t trigger any issues, neither for Renault nor for Alpine. Of course everything is supervised by the same people, it’s more or less the same design teams that are responsible for both cars, but from the moment there are two distinct brands there is no issue.

BSCB: Strategically speaking for the Show, if Alpine was present, would you still have presented the Trezor?

Stéphane Janin: Yes of course, because Trezor shows the future direction of Renault , which is different from what Alpine wants to do.

Paris 2016 / Dacia: Our social communities are our best spokespeople

dacia-sandero-stepway-paris-2016Dacia unveiled the facelifted Sandero and Logan in Paris. 

Today we kick-start with Dacia a series of interviews I had the pleasure of conducting at the Paris Auto Show last week. We already met with Dacia at both the Paris Auto Show 2014 and Frankfurt Auto Show 2015, each time providing us with invaluable insights into one of the fastest-growing brands in the world. This year is no different as we interview François Mariotte, Dacia World Commercial Director.

BSCB: The big for Dacia this year in France is the Sandero new outright best-selling car with private buyers with 30% year-on-year gains even though its facelift, that you unveiled during this Show, is about to hit the market. What happened?

François Mariotte: This year will be another year of growth for Dacia, at end August we have reached 391.000 sales, up 7.3% year-on-year. 27 out of the 44 countries where the Dacia brand is available are at record levels this year, and we do indeed have a few golden nuggets in our commercial results such as the Sandero #1 with private buyers in France and Spain. As a reminder our business model is solely focused towards private sales, we do not do fleet as we already are selling our cars at the absolute minimum price and cannot offer any rebates. Our motto is “One product/One price” and our price is sensational.

Dacia Duster 2016. Picture courtesy autoexpress.co.ukThe Dacia Duster is #2 in the C-segment with private European buyers.

With the current pressure on purchasing power that consumers are experiencing at the moment, Dacia is the way to buy a new car for the price of a second-hand one. One of the reasons behind our success is the fact that both the Sandero Stepway (the best-selling Sandero variant) and Duster are playing right into the fastest-growing segment in Europe: SUVs. In 2009 there were 9 SUVs on offer in Europe, in 2016 there are more than 30. In fact the Sandero is the third best-selling car of its segment across Europe with private buyers – below just the VW Polo and the Ford Fiesta – and the Duster does even better: it ranks 2nd overall in the compact segment below the VW Golf.

BSCB: Does this mean the Dacia Duster is the best-selling SUV in Europe with private buyers?

Read the full interview below.

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BSCB Exclusive coverage of the Paris Auto Show coming shortly

renault-trezor-paris-auto-show-2016Renault Trezor Concept – Paris Auto Show 2016 

Today was the second Press Day at the Paris Auto Show and BSCB has been busy catching up with French manufacturers. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Show including the 10 things to remember from all the Press Conferences and exclusive interviews of Laurens Van den Acker (Vice President of Renault Corporate Design), Stephane Janin (Designer of the Renault Trezor Concept pictured above), François Mariotte (General Manager, Dacia Sales and Marketing), Richard Meyer (Citroen Director of Future Products) and the entire Board of Executives of the French premium brand DS.

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