Renault will introduce a one-tonne ute to rival the Toyota HiLux as early as 2016 as it targets growth in new segments of the market.
Renault Asia-Pacific chairman Gilles Normand confirmed the French brand was developing a pick-up based on Alliance partner Nissan’s all-new Navara workhorse.
“It’s something we are working on,” Normand told Australian automotive media including CarAdvice at the Paris motor show.
“Definitely, it will be based on the Alliance product.”
Normand suggested Renault’s first-ever one-tonne ute would go on sale “around 2016 or after”, revealing it would take time to develop a vehicle with “significant styling differentiation” to the Navara.
He said the vehicle’s production source was still to be finalised, though it seems likely it will be built in Thailand alongside the new Navara, which comes from a newly constructed plant in that country.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the local division would welcome a one-tonne ute into its line-up to join the Kangoo, Trafic and Master models, which currently account for more than 35 per cent of the brand’s sales.
“We’ve already had great success with vans in small, medium and large and we’re now pushing into the top three in those segments so that’s a great result,” Hocevar said.
“Our dealer network, which has more than doubled, is developing the skills to sell commercial vehicles, so adding another string to our bow in this area would be wonderful for us.”
Normand expects take-up of the ute to be strong in regions like Northern Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America where demand for utes is strong and the Renault brand is well established, but was more measured in his expectations for the model in Australia.
“In the markets where we have not yet reached a certain level of visibility it will be a little bit more challenging. I guess there may be some market potential but I will not expect in Australia all the ute segment’s potential buyers to go to the Renault showroom and purchase the truck from Renault when it is the first truck from Renault in history. I guess I would be rather pragmatic on this one.
“However, in all the places where Renault is solidly implemented and established with good network representation, good reputation, definitely people will come and say ‘this is a Renault, a very good product, we trust you’, and will go for it,” he said.
The all-new Nissan Navara was unveiled in June and will launch in Australia at the beginning of 2015. The line-up will include single-, space- and dual-cab body styles, two- and four-wheel drive, six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmissions, and two tunes of a new 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 118kW/403Nm and 140kW/450Nm.
Note: New Renault Espace pictured top for illustration purposes only.