The global trend toward more luxurious, safer and more powerful cars is not lost on Renault. Despite cutting back production due to slow sales of the Laguna, the company is moving forward with plans to go even further up-market. One of the cars Renault will use to get there is the product of a joint-venture with Samsung.

To be built in South Korea, the new car will be the largest Renault has ever produced. Renault's D platform is the basis of the new sedan, which is due for launch in 2010. The Vel Satis name may not come along for the upgrade, however, since "that name does not have the same spirit as the new model," according to Renault's director of product development Beatrice Foucher-Sybord, in an interview with Automotive News at the Geneva auto show. The Renault-Samsung model is the first of two new larger, upscale vehicles from Renault. The second will be a French-built crossover due in late 2010 or 2011.

If one were to look at sales alone, it'd be reasonable to assume Renault was headed down-market, not up - a weak western European large-car market on top of a strong small-car market in central and eastern Europe means the company's sales are trending toward the low-cost end of the spectrum. Renault explains this by noting the dynamic nature of emerging markets - and although the total percentage of cars sold may be increasingly low-cost, the company still believes there is room in the luxury segment.