The Slovenia Times

Renault and Revoz -"Trusted Parners"



Michel Bouton was born in Le Mans, France, in 1944. He started his career at Renault at the age of 19 as a toolmaker, and in the decades that followed he rose to become the general manager of the factory at Choisy Le Roi by 1994. His next assignment was Revoz where he took the position of President of the Board in 2000. Mr. Bouton, how would you describe your first impressions of the country you were appointed to. When I was told I was going to work in Slovenia I did what most French would probably do - I looked at an atlas to see where the country was, and to find out what its characteristics were. I also attempted to find a useful tourist guide but there was only one available in English. Fortunately, my colleagues at Renault told me many nice things about this country, so I came here with positive expectations and was personally very curious.. Of course, I knew that professionally I was entering a successful company and that was also exciting. So after a while - were your expectations proven right? More than that - after months of living in Slovenia, things turned out to be even better than I expected, both privately and professionally. Can you say you are happy with the presence of Renault's vehicles on Slovene roads? One surprising thing when you first arrive in Slovenia is the quality of the cars you see. They are very new, well maintained, and there are almost no damaged cars on the roads, and of course, a large share of Renaults. We can still see the good old "Quatres" (Renault 4) which are well preserved despite being out of production for 15 years, but on the other hand there are also a great deal of Vel Satises or Avantimes that you see on Slovene roads. It is quite clear that after you have maintained a 25 per cent market share for more than ten years, it is something that has to be evident on the roads as well. But generally I think Slovenes enjoy their cars very much and it is a pleasure to see how passionate they are about cars. Looking at the presence of Renaults in Slovenia, we can say that Slovenes obviously trust this trademark highly. In your opinion is it more because it is seen, in a way, as a "domestic" brand or more that the customers respect the elegance, functionality and other qualities of your cars? Both are true. It is clear that Slovenes see the 'Clio' as their national product, but on the other hand this model's features also suit a majority of the population. So, they buy it in the first place because it is a certain car model and secondly because they trust the people that made it. Their opinion is also that the characteristics of the Clio also determine other Renault models and they are absolutely right. With a little modification to the famous quote, we can say that a producer who designs and manufactures Clios, cannot be a bad producer. ...and the competition? It is a fact however, that other manufacturers, French or not, manufacture good cars - well let'say their cars are not quite as good as ours, but our car has a sign "Made in Slovenia" and that makes a big difference. Then what is Renault's attitude towards the other French manufacturers (Citroen, Peugeot)? Is it competitive or is there a certain level of solidarity in promoting a sort of national automobile "image"? In Slovenia, we have very good relations with our French colleagues, but I can assure you that it is not based on national pride. We all try our best to satisfy the expectations of our customers in terms of both product and services, but if there was an opportunity of selling one Renault rather than a Peugeot or vice versa, none of us would hesitate about it for any reason. How would you comment about Slovenes as partners in production: their working habits, their attitude to co-workers and their efficiency? How does this compare with other countries where Renault has factories? Slovenes are good partners and it is a shame that there are so few contractors interested in working for the car industry. It is very difficult to find local partners who are ready to become part of a "joint venture" with one of the major European groups, so I'm afraid we'll have to search for our partners in countries to the north of Slovenia. Speaking of the employees, they are quality workers. The initial level of education is very good. Slovenes are also ready to learn more, always in a good working mood, daring, persistent and ready to promote. Slovenes are a quality and efficient resource with a feeling for quality and we respect the demands of the employee and the contracts they make. There are frequent debates about a sort of Slovenian obsession with buying cars. The expenditures that an average Slovene dedicates to a car are very high compared to his revenue. How do you see Slovenes as consumers? This is a question of personal choice. Slovenes definitely like beautiful cars very much and the leading man of a Slovene automobile company definitely won't be the one to persuade them to act differently. It is also true that cars in Slovenia proportionally range among the cheapest products, so people can at least get a feeling that they have got something valuable for their money. Compared to the prices of other Slovenian products - clothes and furniture for example - it is simple to understand why Slovenes find it easier to decide to buy a car. It seems hard to explain why, in a country that is rich with wood, and where the labour is not that expensive, you find furniture more expensive than in France or in other EU countries. The only possible reasons to explain this are that the costs of distribution are causing the high prices and that competition in the furniture market hasn't yet developed. The same thing is not possible in the car industry and that is something Slovenes are aware of. What about Slovenes as drivers? Do you agree that they are too temperamental and act irresponsibly on the road? Well, I may not be the one to judge the driving habits of Slovenes. I often take the road from Novo Mesto to Ljublana and it's true I have experienced some dangerous situations, but I think your southern neighbours are even more furious behind the wheel. I expect the motorway to Novo Mesto will be completed as soon as possible so drivers can enjoy greater safety.


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