Renault Return? Not Yet

Carlos Ghosn, preparing to take the helm of Renault SA, says that doesn't mean the French auto maker will reenter the U.S. market at least not immediately. Calling the U.S. a high-risk, high-reward market, the auto executive who oversaw Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s remarkable turnaround, tells Ward's the time is not right for Renault to sell cars in North America, although he doesn't rule out that as an

Carlos Ghosn, preparing to take the helm of Renault SA, says that doesn't mean the French auto maker will reenter the U.S. market — at least not immediately.

Calling the U.S. a “high-risk, high-reward” market, the auto executive who oversaw Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s remarkable turnaround, tells Ward's the time is not right for Renault to sell cars in North America, although he doesn't rule out that as an eventuality.

“Not in the foreseeable future, not in three to five years, but never say never,” he says.

Renault pulled out of the U.S. market in 1987 after its disastrous merger with American Motors Co. that ended with Chrysler Corp. acquiring AMC.

If Renault were to return to the U.S., Ghosn says, “it would make a lot of sense” to sell the vehicles through Nissan dealerships.

Ghosn will remain CEO at Nissan while assuming the same post at parent company Renault this spring.

He was the toast of the town at the 2005 National Automobile Dealers Convention in New Orleans.

He delivered the convention's keynote speech — telling dealers that profit, not market share, is the true measure of automotive success — and accepted the Automotive Hall of Fame's leader-of-the-year award for guiding Nissan out of debt and into profitability, with record car sales that increased 24% in 2004 compared with year-ago.

Ghosn takes the accolades in stride. The praise, he says, “is for now; it doesn't last forever.”

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