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Renault To Go on £3m online used sales campaign

Renault UK has pledged dealers will make an average £1,000 profit on each nearly-new car as its To Go programme moves online to reach retail buyers direct.

Stock is priced above comparable cars sold by the network because they are refurbished to a higher standard and come with a warranty, a year's servicing and breakdown assistance.

Next month Renault will start supporting the scheme with a £3m promotional campaign when the number of cars available should reach 500.

Renault To Go now has 98% of the network signed up and the company is determined to make the online version equally successful.

Sandra Leonhard, Renault UK internet marketing manager, said: “At present we have around 100 cars available on the website and dealers are reporting near instant sales. “We aim to preserve the relationship with franchised dealers by providing them only with leads which look genuine.”

Renault To Go Online integrates with the carmaker's intranet and internet systems, allowing customers to browse and reserve online a car for a test drive.

Vehicles will be delivered to a Renault dealer nominated by the prospective customer for a test drive within five days, with no obligation to buy. Consumers can also 'express interest' in a reserved vehicle, giving them first choice if it is not sold. This is intended to give dealers the opportunity to make a speedy sale.

Bob O'Reilly, Renault UK used vehicle operations manager, said: “At first dealers are suspicious about moving into the nearly-new market - they believe it may infringe on other sales.

“But when they realise that it doesn't affect new or used sales they are eager to take advantage of the programme.” Retailers can take cars on sale or return or “sell off the computer screen”, saving storage space in the dealership, said Mr O'Reilly.

Consumers can access via the internet a range of nearly-new cars and vans - mostly ex-fleet, rental and company vehicles - up to 18 months old or 18,000 miles. Average age is nine months.

The cars are owned by Renault and supplied direct to the dealership, which Mr O'Reilly believes is a vital selling point.

“Retail customers will be reassured by the online scheme because cars are fully refurbished by Renault and supplied to dealers ready to retail,” he said.

Renault To Go Online achieved a 10% conversion rate during trials. However, many other potential buyers used the system to locate vehicles before printing out the details and going to the dealership to arrange the test drive.

The scheme coincides with the launch of Renault's internet used car vehicle locator site. Used Vehicles Online gives consumers access to a nationwide selection of models which fall outside the Renault To Go programme. From October, the scheme will include all makes.

“The online package is one of reassurance for the customer, with no hassle or pressure from salesmen,” said Ms Leonhard. Renault To Go, launched in April last year, was designed to support residual values by offering nearly-new cars refurbished and prepared to retail standard. It accounted for 4,000 sales in 1999, expected to rise to 8,000 this year on the back of the online launch.

Renault UK hopes To Go in total will sell 12,000 cars in 2001 - around 80% of its total vehicle disposals - 15,000 in 2002 and 20,000 in 2003.

“Putting 12-15,000 ex-fleet vehicles through the scheme will improve residuals by 4-5%,” said Mr O'Reilly.

Renault has appointed the RAC to carry out three independent inspections - pre-refurbishment, post refurbishment, and again if the vehicle is held by Renault for two days.

The refurbishment takes place at a new £3m centre in Corby, Nhants, operated in conjunction with Eurofleet. It enables Renault to handle larger volumes while maintaining a consistent level of quality.

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