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by Tim Beissmann

Renault Australia plans to put significantly more effort into making the upgraded Renault Koleos a success in 2012 and beyond.

The first-generation Koleos was launched in Australia in late 2008. Renault forecast sales of 150 per month (1800 per year), but after three years on the market it has delivered just 2427, around 3000 fewer than it planned.

In 2011, the Koleos’s share of the compact SUV market – one of the largest and fastest growing segments in the country – has fallen to just 0.4 per cent. In October, just 23 Koleoses found new homes.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the brand had low expectations for its SUV this year as it entered run-out mode. “We’ve really held out for the new model before we put a concerted effort behind it,” Hocevar said, admitting the brand placed more focus on the broader product range this year.

He says Renault Australia has a production cap of 750 Koleoses in 2012, and is hopeful of selling those and more.

“Depending on how successful the marketing launch of the new Koleos is we could probably do a little bit better [than 750] with it, but we are already being informed of some production restrictions for Koleos next year.

“We will continue to push for more [supply],” Hocevar said.

Renault Australia has applied its current strategy of competitive prices and high specification levels to the new Koleos, adding between $1490 and $3150 in extra value across the range while prices have either stayed the same or increased by no more than $1000.

Hocevar, who has been in the head role since September 2010, said a lack of awareness of the Koleos meant it was often overlooked by new-car shoppers.

“We’ve certainly got a lot more focus on this vehicle [than the old management]. We know we’ve got a really good product, we’ve just got to constantly build awareness, build the consideration set for the vehicle, and just invite people to trial it.

“I think when they trial it they’ll actually realise that it’s a car that has really credible underpinnings and is a refined drive and a great package.”

Renault Australia plans to boost the Koleos’s image with its ‘young active family’ target audience over the coming months. Renault is the major sponsor of the National Beach Volleyball Series and will also have a presence at the Ironman and Ironwoman events. Ironmen and brothers Shannon and Caine Eckstein have become Renault brand ambassadors and will be seen with the Koleos throughout the summer.

Hocevar said Renault was determined to expand front-wheel drive Koleos sales with the launch of the new model. Since launch, the more expensive 4×4 variants have accounted for 59 per cent of sales.

He said Renault Australia was also looking at expanding the 2.0-litre diesel engine into other models in the range – it is currently only available in the $40,990 Dynamique 4×4 after an unsuccessful and short-lived stint in the base model Expression – but admitted that could still be some way off.

“It’s something that we are considering, but we want to get the vehicle back into market under this new model with its new offer, new specification, and then one step at a time.”

Read CarAdvice’s review of the new Renault Koleos.




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