Renault looking to boost brand awareness in China with new Alibaba deal

The French car manufacturer says the Chinese market is a “top priority”, which is forecast to become the leading market for luxury vehicles by 2020.

Renault Sport Formula One Team and Alibaba’s Tmall have partnered for the 2018 FIA Formula One Championship, as the French car manufacturer looks to “significantly improve brand awareness and opinion” in China.

As part of the agreement, the team’s new 2018 car – the Renault R.S. 18 F1 challenger – will feature Tmall’s cat logo during the sporting event, which kicks off in April’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Groupe Renault – which posted both record sales and profit in 2017, with operating profit up 17.4% to an all-time high of €3.85bn (£3.41bn) – said China is a market of “strategic importance” and a “top priority” in the company’s new mid-term plan. Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company – the equally owned Chinese joint venture between Dongfeng Motor Group and Renault – has set a target of 400,000 passenger cars sales by 2022.

“One of the key objectives of returning to Formula 1 was to leverage its global platform for Groupe Renault,” says Cyril Abiteboul, managing director of Renault Sport Racing.

“China has been identified as a market of strategic importance and partnering with high-profile companies like Alibaba’s Tmall will provide opportunities to significantly improve Renault brand awareness and opinion in China, with a strong presence over the Chinese Grand Prix in April, but also throughout the year.”

Renault is Alibaba’s latest major partnership with an international automaker, with recent collaborations including Ford, BMW, Volvo, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

Wei Yu, General Manager of Tmall Auto says: “We are excited to partner with the Renault Sport Formula One Team to make our activity around the Chinese Grand Prix a success and to be working closely together to bring one-of-a-kind experiences with the Renault Sport Formula One Team to our customers.”

According to US business intelligence firm L2, China is expected to become the top market for luxury vehicles by 2020, with a separate McKinsey study finding that 23% of Chinese consumers aged 18 to 24 are shopping for cars online.

Renault is set to release images of the new car on Wednesday, with further details of the partnership to be revealed in March.

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