Renault hasn't been in the US market since 1987, the year the Alliance and the Encore stopped trickling out of AMC factories. Few have missed the French automaker's presence since it left our shores, though many thought the doors would once again open to the land of opportunity once Nissan was in the fold. That hasn't happened so far, but a story in The Wall Street Journal shows that Renault is at least thinking about once again coming Stateside to sell cars and SUVs. Gerard Detourbet, head of Renault's entry-level vehicle division, told WSJ that the company is studying a move to North America, and the vehicle that could influence the decision is the low-cost Duster SUV.
The Duster, which for now is being build by Dacia in Romania, will eventually be sold as a Renault once production ramps up. If the apparently capable Duster is a success in emerging markets like South America and Eastern Europe, there could be a chance Renault would give the mini ute a chance in the U.S. But Detourbet reportedly doesn't see Renault entering the U.S. market with just one vehicle like it did with the Alliance in late 1982, instead favoring a family of affordable vehicles as the best approach. And with Renault's Logan line already established in many parts of the world, the budget-minded nameplate could be reworked for U.S. duty at some point in the future.
While it's nice to hear that Renault is at least considering a return to America, we're not all that hopeful that anything will happen within the next three to five years. Besides, once the Duster is retrofitted for U.S. duty it'll probably be heavier, more expensive and overwhelmingly diesel-less.