Fleet News

Geneva Show Preview: Renault promises better quality with new Laguna

RENAULT UK is giving fleet customers a pledge that quality is higher on the facelifted Laguna after picking up a hefty warranty bill on the model launched in 2001.

The 2005 model Laguna was unveiled at the Amsterdam Motor Show and goes on sale in mid-March, with Renault conscious of the need to limit the damage caused by previous problems.

Keith Hawes, Renault UK director of fleet and light commercial vehicles, said: ‘We have put higher quality at the core of our product specification to provide greater ownership enjoyment and reliability.’

Hawes could not say by how much the current Laguna warranty bill had exceeded budget but insisted a similar problem would not happen again.

He said: ‘In part, my bonus is based on warranty costs, and the board is taking responsibility for what happened. We measure warranty costs because they can be huge, which means we can make massive savings.’

Renault UK is working closely with its top six contract hire customers to analyse what happens when a car goes wrong, and find ways of reducing its response times. Two technical innovations introduced on Laguna four years ago did not stand up to the test of reality.

Drivers who put the entry card (which replaced the conventional key) in trouser pockets then sat on it, damaging the electronics which stopped the remote system from working.

Safety-conscious Renault introduced automatic tyre- pressure units but these were damaged when tyres were changed. Component suppliers are in part blamed for the large number of complaints about both functions, but the company accepts its own engineers failed to understand customers would not always use the cards as carefully as they did.

Both difficulties have been resolved and Renault chairman Louis Schweitzer has directed that innovations must continue, but not be introduced until they have been rigorously tested.

FEATURES on Renault’s new Laguna include a reworked front, extensive changes to the cabin and new 205bhp and, later, 170bhp high-performance GT versions. There are two new Euro IV dCi engines – the 95bhp from launch and 130bhp from May. Prices will rise by £300 with the arrival of Euro IV engines.

Renault is though cutting £200 off the price of the Hatch 2.0 16v Expression, priced £15,775, and Sport Tourer 2.0 16v Expression, £16,775. Renault suffered last year as retail sales dipped and was hampered by the 95bhp Euro III diesel engine but Hawes said: ‘We will reduce the deficit, but we don’t look at car market share as essential. Our emphasis is on making money and we did that, with a record year for cars and vans combined.’

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