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In the spring of 2002, Matra-Automobile found itself at a crossroad: after the exceptional success story of the Renault Espace, which lasted for over 15 years, the situation of Matra Automobile is critical: The Lagardère Group has announced its intention to withdrawfrom the automobile business, Renault has decided to transfer the manufacturing of the new Renault Espace to one of its own factories, the commercial prospects of the Avantime are quite uncertain and the launch of another product (the m72) has not yet really been decided. What a paradox! This company, which had broken all the profitability records of its sector, is close to bankruptcy.
Despite aprofitability track record that was exceptional for the sector (10% gross margin for several years running) and which made Matra Automobile the most profitable subsidiary of the Lagardère group and one of the most profitable car manufacturers in the world, potential buyers are not showing up. This situation, described in the case, will result in a disaster a few months later: the manufacturing ofthe Avantime will cease after only 5131 units. The Matra Auto factory will close and its employees will be laid off.
I will introduce in this paper the history of the Renault Espace car pioneer and its huge commercial success, but mostly manufacturer marginal player, Matra Automobile, previously best known for its small sports series for its Concept Car success.
From the unexpected growth,the transfer of production to Renault, then the failure of the Avantime which will cause Matra Automobile in the fall.
History of Matra:
The Matra group, primarily focused on the defense sector, becomes an owner in 1964 of a small car company allowing him to use this area as a vector of its image and its technology to make itself better known to the general public. MATRA SPORT SARL iscreated. It sets out a program of racing and announced the construction of a production car. In 1965, the project is assigned to a young engineer, Philippe Guesdon.
The competition program, which allowed Matra further success on the sporting and allowed him to obtain an image of sports car, will last until 1974, whereupon JL Lagardere will decide his case. In 1967, the company brings to market the M530,a sports car series will face serious problems of quality and will jeopardize the credibility of the company. Five years later, it shut down production. In 1969, Matra signs contract with Chrysler to France to save its credibility and benefit from a powerful distribution network. This agreement will be born, Bagheera. The oil shocks of the car will fail and will go out of fashion the concept ofthe sports car.
Matra Automobiles compelled to launch a new model ever to be released is the Matra-Simca created-Rancho, car entertainment that breaks with the tradition of sports brand. This car will experience a true commercial success. From 1973 to 1983, when the takeover of Chrysler France by Peugeot, the model, which occasionally changes its name to the Talbot Matra Rancho, will be produced56000 copies. A new model will be a hit but sold far less, it is the Talbot Matra Murena whose stinging defeat on the market will undermine relations with Peugeot and the future of Matra Automobile.
In 1981 Matra introduced the new project, the P18 (future space), but the manufacturer Peugeot is the project too risky and declined the offer especially since the firm Peugeot is in trouble andtries to recuperate Economic preparing the 205. However, Jean Boillot, who heads the company Sochaux then declared: "This is a fantastic concept which is very valuable, but we have to swallow Talbot and we have no means to be on all fronts." (L'Expansion. 3-16 March 1994). The agreement Matra - Peugeot ends, the leaders of Peugeot deciding to refocus their investments.Matra is looking for new...