Renault Samsung Preparing for Leap Forward in 2010
By Kim Hyun-cheol
Renault Samsung might aptly be referred to as a winner in the domestic auto industry. In spite of a sluggish market both at home and abroad, the Korean unit of the Renault-Nissan alliance continued its surplus streak to eight consecutive years by selling a total of 189,811 vehicles last year.
It sold a record-high 133,630 vehicles in the local market, up 31 percent from the previous year, with its market share reaching 10.8 percent at 3.7 trillion won ($3.3 billion).
Mainly due to the successful launch of the latest edition of the SM3 compact sedan, the company ranked third in sales among the global network of Renault-Nissan, following France and Germany.
Such an impressive performance proves the maker has established itself as a true contender, even as the youngest Korean player, with a history of less than a decade, Renault Samsung says.
The hopeful prospects equally apply this year with another new model, a facelift edition of the SM5 sedan, launched this past January.
Earlier this week, Renault Samsung announced that it will start selling a revamped version of the SM3 compact car in the second half of this year to help cope with slumping domestic demand. The facelift edition, which features a 2-liter gasoline engine, will be unveiled next week at the Busan International Motor Show.
Even though the auto market is expected to become more intensified as a result of a growing number of imported brands and a series of new releases by local makers, Renault Samsung is positive about the overall outlook because of its enhanced lineup and differentiated marketing strategies.
Overseas, it looks to export 100,000 vehicles this year with a growth of 78 percent year-on-year. Officials of the company said the global sales network of its parent company will enable it to achieve the target, in a bid to consolidate its position as a competitive global branch of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
This year is also going to make a meaningful mark for the maker as the first year of its long-term initiative for development, which will weigh heavily on quality control.
To begin with, it aims to maintain its perennial top spot in customer satisfaction. In a vehicle quality poll last year by Marketing Insight, a local auto research firm, Renault Samsung topped the customer satisfaction index among Korean auto manufacturers.
In the survey, the maker has been enjoying the top spot as the most satisfactory maker for eight consecutive years. Also, the SM3 and QM5 models were leading in compact sedans and SUVs respectively in the 2009 Korean Standard-Quality Excellence Index (KS-QEI), in an acknowledgement of the superior quality of its products.
Renault Samsung said it is bent on supplying safe products to its customers because the most positive attribute of the company lies in its clear direction toward quality-first policies, as well as a motivating leadership from head executives.
In this, the Korean unit of the current Renault-Nissan alliance has been loyal to the principles of pursuing the best efficiency and localization in management since its foundation in 2000, the company added.
``Safety and quality should be the highest values of an auto maker. From novices to professionals, all drivers have the right to have safe vehicles,'' said Lim Jong-sung, head of Renault Samsung's quality control unit.
As well as enhancing the product lineup, the company plans to launch a series of new projects in efforts to actively deal with diversifying car markets, including the development of electric vehicles.
Starting this year, cooperation with Renault-Nissan will extend to development investment and staff exchanges. Streamlining the manufacturing processes on the whole will be to upgrade its productivity, including raising its unit-per-hour production.