This is a race against time.
Dec. 16, 2013 will go down in automotive history as a very special moment. 9 years in the making, punctuated with multiple attempts of withdrawal, Dongfeng and Renault finally joined hands. As the last step in multinational automakers’ endeavor to map out their development plans in China, Dongfeng Renault carries too much expectation. But nothing will stand in the way any more. The wait had been excruciating enough.
What does it mean to lose the China market? A comparison between Nissan and Renault will shed some light. By 1999, Nissan had already suffered losses for 7 consecutive years. Crippling debts had pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy. Renault, in contrast, was at its prime. It acquired 44.4% of Nissan’s shares, giving birth to the Renault-Nissan alliance. 12 years later, the table was turned. Thanks to its cooperation with Dongfeng in China, Nissan became one of the most powerful automotive makers in the world. Renault, on the other hand, saw a year-on-year dip of 6.3% in sales in 2012. The two companies’ sales volumes in China differed even more widely, at a ratio of 100:3.
Now Renault is making another foray into the China market. Merely 2 weeks after the joint venture was approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the signing ceremony of the contract establishing Dongfeng Renault Automobile Company Ltd. took place in Wuhan. Senior executives such as Xu Ping, Board Chair of Dongfeng Automotive Corp., and President Zhu Fushou, and Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Renualt S.A. attended the ceremony, a testament to the high value they place on the new-born partnership long in the making.
Jacques Daniel of Renault assumed the position of President of the new company, charged with the mission of turning the keen expectations on both sides into reality.
A look at his resume reveals his engineering background and international leadership experience. Before working at Dongfeng Renault, he was in charge of Renault’s global after-sale business. Before that, he worked in Romania, the Netherlands, France and Columbia, responsible for branding and sales. His relationship with China goes back to years ago when he was charged with Renault’s business in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland for 3 years. That was when Renault began its first export to China.
With many years of working in the global market, what can Daniel bring to Dongfeng Renault? In the fiercely competitive China market, what role will the company play? And how will it make its mark as a new player in the market? With curiosity about the company mounting, on Dec. 24, 2013, only 9 days after the signing ceremony, Sohu Auto went to Wuhan for an exclusive interview of Jacques Daniel.