You know the scenario. The new “Grand Fromage” boss arrives to inspect the troops and, alarmed by long-time executives, begins to search the half-forgotten parts of his new empire. Just to see what’s there.
And that triggers a revolution.
It happened when Renault’s new CEO, mercury and ever-curious Italian Luca de Meo, landed at the worried French automaker’s headquarters late last year to shake things up.
Renault Classic Supermini hatchback – the 4 (pictured) and 5 are set to make a comeback as the French auto giant picks up on the trend for retro-style engines
While rummaging around in one of the dustier areas of the auto giant’s design studio with his subordinates, former bosses of SEAT and Fiat, he came across a semi-hidden, scale prototype of a small hatchback that intrigued him.
He asked a designer what it was. It is a study for a modern version of a retro hatchback, came the resigned answer. But we’ve been told Renault doesn’t do retro, so it’s not going anywhere.
At that very moment, de Meo experienced a classic lightbulb moment – which, as he told me, was a pure “gut reaction”.
And then, with a wave of the magic wand of ‘fairy godmother’ de Meo, the car in question instantly transformed from an overlooked, half-forgotten and underrated Cinderella design, destined for the trash can of history, to a glamorous star now becoming the ball walk.
When de Meo outlined his blueprint for reshaping his company for the challenges of the 21st century earlier this year, it was his plan to revive and update the classic Renault 5 Super-Mini as an all-electric hatchback that will become the centerpiece of his recovery plan see the company reconnect with its past.
The Renault 5, which is the first to receive a new, electric incarnation after the new boss of the company Luca de Meo (pictured) discovered a prototype model in the design studio of the car giant
The original Renault 5 gained cult status in the 1980s and was driven by the likes of Joanna Lumley, who was photographed washing her apartment in front of her apartment in London’s Holland Park, and by actress Barbara Carrera in the 007 film Never Say Never Again Sean Connery in 1983.
De Meo, who in his previous role at Italian Fiat led the recent revival of the Retro 500, which has now been reborn as an all-electric supermini, told me, “At the time, the 5 Series wasn’t even a project.
The whole thing was done in a month and a half. Sometimes there isn’t a big strategy. It’s gut feeling. ‘
The Renault 5 Super-Mini has been reborn as an all-electric hatchback that will “reconnect with its past”.
But it won’t stop. The classic Renault 4 is likely to come next for a retro reincarnation. The company has already applied for a patent for a modern interpretation of its shape.
And when de Meo was later asked by Auto Express if the ‘4’ and others might be eligible for the retro treatment, he replied, ‘Why not? In Renault’s past, there were so many products that made history. It would be a shame not to reconnect with this long tradition.
“We’re not just here to look in the rearview mirror. We’re here to reinvent things. I think Renault 5 is a good example of this. ‘
It’s all part of de Meo’s plan to bring the Renault group back to a balanced financial level: profitably and with a completely revamped, redesigned and electrified range of models that will include 24 vehicles over the next five years and cover the Renault. Brands Dacia, Alpine and Lada.
Side by side: a classic Renault 5 from 1972 next to its all-electric descending descendant
The Renault 5 was France’s best-selling car between 1972 and 1986 and achieved cult status when a road-legal version of the 5 Turbo Group B rally car was launched
Almost a third (30 percent) of all Renault Group’s sales will be fully electric vehicles by 2025.
The original Renault 5 hatchback was sold from 1972 and sold more than 8.5 million cars before being developed as the second generation Supercinq in 1984, which had more than 3.2 million sales.
This was replaced in 1990 by the Renault Clio as embodied in the UK by Nicole and Papa, although it still existed in 1996 in some markets.
The Renault 5 was the best-selling car in France between 1972 and 1986 and achieved cult status when a road-legal version of the 5 Turbo Group B rally car, with which the electric revival bears a particular resemblance, was introduced.
Style icon: Joanna Lumley, photographed washing her Renault 5 in front of her apartment in Holland Park, London
The original Renault 5 went on sale from 1972 and sold more than 8.5 million cars before evolving into the Supercinq in 1984, which had more than 3.2 million sales
The 5 Turbo, of which 4,987 were built, is now a sought-after collectors’ model, selling for up to £ 80,000.
The boxer Renault 4 was launched in July 1961 and over 31 years it has sold more than 8 million in 100 countries.
Renault said the return of the 5 is “the rebirth of a cult car, more modern than ever” and part of its plans to “reconnect with its past” – and we should see it on sale before 2025.
The trend towards golden oldies
Keep your eyes on the road, Prime Minister
Boris Johnson is urged to save Britain’s world leading historic and classic auto industry – including 100,000 jobs that depend on the £ 18 billion auto sector.
Activists from the newly formed Historic and Classic Vehicle Alliance (hcva.co.uk) have warned the Prime Minister – a car enthusiast himself – that they will be buried alive by a “bureaucratic nightmare” of the bureaucracy and have failed by unfairly targeted “green” regulations after which millions of popular classic cars could be driven off UK roads.
Business leaders, auto industry experts and politicians – including a former Tory transport minister and F1, supercar and green vehicle designer Professor Gordon Murray – have called on the Prime Minister to help keep the precious sector alive.
They hope that Mr. Johnson – a former columnist who wrote a book called “Living in the Fast Lane: The Johnson’s Guide to Cars” – will help “secure the future of a great UK industry”.
Skilled jobs in the UK are under threat as bureaucracy and unfair, unfocused green policies risk “strangling” one of the country’s leading global industries.
Three million classic and historic cars on UK roads are valued at over £ 12 billion, create 113,000 jobs, generate annual international trade of £ 18.3 billion and generate around £ 3 billion in tax revenue.
East Sussex Conservative MP and former Transport Secretary Nus Ghani said: “The classic and historic vehicle industry is a great British success story that is enjoyed by millions and it would be disastrous if it were seriously harmed by neglect or ignorance.”
SAVE MONEY WHEN DRIVING A CAR
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