Le Comeback: Renault returns to America, under Mitsubishi cover

Le Car - Picture courtesy photobucket.com

Renault hasn’t sold cars in the U.S. since the post-disco-era and the sale of AMC to Chrysler. Renault cars are about to return to the Promised Land, albeit in Mitsubishi mufti.

Mitsubishi will sell two Renaults badged as Mitsubishis, and they will be brought to the United States and Canada, the companies said in a statement.

First will be a full-size sedan “to compete in the D-segment markets of the United States and Canada.” That car will be made at the Renault-Samsung plant in Busan, South Korea.

A second Renault-dressed-up-as-Mitsubishi will target “the global C-segment.” The manufacturing location for this product has not been decided.

South Korea and the U.S. have a free trade agreement. Tariffs on cars will be mutually eliminated by 2016. The U.S. will keep its 25% chicken tax tariff on trucks for another seven years, and plans to have it phased out by 2021.

SM5 - Picture courtesy Renault

The D-segment sedan sounds like a replacement for the Mitsubishi Galant, which was made at Mitsubishi’s Illinois plant until 2012. The successor most likely will be an iteration of the Renault Latitude, called the SM5 when it rolls out of the Renault Samsung plant in Busan.

SM3 - Picture courtesy Renault

According to gossip in Yokohama bars, the C-model could be a Renault Fluence in Mitsubishi Lancer clothing. The Fluence is being built in Busan as an SM3. The Fluence is based on Renault’s Megane, which the company also shares with Daimler. Thinking of Daimler and Mitsubishi, we are now entering the twilight zone.

Renault officially joins a blooming partnership between Nissan and Mitsubishi. The pair recently and successfully launched a joint “kei” car, the Nissan Dayz/Mitsubishi eK Wagon. Using this platform, Nissan and Mitsubishi will now jointly develop “a new small-segment car including a specific electric version that can be sold on a global basis.” Nissan has been selling the all-electric Leaf since 2010. Mitsubishi, with considerably less luck, has been selling the i-MiEV since 2009. It slowly becomes time to think about a new generation for both. Reuters heard in Yokohama that Nissan and Mitsubishi “are considering combining Nissan’s lithium-ion battery and Mitsubishi’s motor technologies.” Drop them into an existing modern platform, and everybody saves a lot of money.


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