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Renault UK axes Vel Satis and the Premier Centres

Renault UK, which has quietly abandoned its Premier Centres programme despite investment by more than 50 dealers, will not distribute the facelifted Vel Satis which goes on sale in mainland Europe later this year.

Avantime, another Premier model, was axed two years ago.

With only 1,400 Vel Satis sales in Britain over the past three years Renault felt it could not justify the investment needed for right-hand drive conversion.

The 30 or so Vel Satis units remaining in the UK will be sold by the end of April. That will leave Grand Espace as Renault’s flagship in the UK. The fourth Premier model was the Clio V6.

Les Garlick, chairman of the Renault Dealer Association, says: “It was brave of Renault to adopt the radical shape of Vel Satis, which is a great car to drive and aspects of its styling are seen in other models.

Unfortunately, people in this country did not take to Vel Satis and it remains to be seen whether Renault produces another large car. It is a brand-oriented sector, and we have seen Ford drop out (though it has Jaguar and Volvo) and Vauxhall probably wishes it could.

“This is disappointing for those of us who invested in Premier Centres. The good thing is that we have been left with enhanced showrooms.”

A Renault UK spokeswoman says: “We had high hopes for Vel Satis, which has done well in some markets, but unfortunately not here.”

She confirms the Premier Centre concept has been shelved, but claims that it was only intended to last for two years. Renault had paid half dealers’ upgrade costs.

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