Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Nissan and Renault

Renault axes five models and 55 dealers in UK

Renault has announced it will withdraw five models from the UK market and cut about one-third of its authorized dealerships.

A company spokeswoman said the steps were in response to plunging sales and a weaker pound.

France's second-biggest carmaker will stop taking orders for vehicles including its Espace people-mover, Laguna mid-sized car and Kangoo passenger van in February, Caroline De Gezelle said this week, confirming a report by online trade publication Autocar. 

The company will also cut about one-third of its 190 dealerships, she said.

"The decision is a result of the economic crisis," De Gezelle said. The pound's weakness against the euro is "part of the difficulty we're facing in the UK."

The pound has tumbled 16 per cent against the euro since the end of 2008, squeezing the profitability of British sales of vehicles assembled in France with euro-denominated production costs.

The partial withdrawal from the No.3 European auto market follows a 29 per cent plunge of Renault's January-November registrations that reduced its market share to 3.5 percent, compared with 4.7 percent in the year-earlier period and 7.6 per cent for the full-year 2002.

Other models to be dropped from British showrooms are the Modus compact minivan and Wind roadster, the company said. Its top British sellers, the Megane compact and Clio mini, will remain on sale.

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