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by Tim Beissmann

The boss of Renault Australia is confident 2015 will be another record year for the brand on the back of the launch of the pint-sized Captur crossover and the continued expansion of the local dealer network.

Renault became the first French manufacturer in Australia to deliver more than 10,000 vehicles in a calendar year in 2014 – its sales rising a remarkable 42.7 per cent over 2013’s tally to 10,014.

It experienced growth across almost all model lines, led by its top seller, the Clio, sales of which increased fourfold to 2611.

Renault Australia doesn’t see the trend reversing any time soon, either, predicting continued growth in 2015.

“We anticipate volume development of between 10 and 20 per cent over our record 2014 result,” Hocevar said, suggesting a tally of up to 12,000 vehicles is within the brand’s reach this year.

justin-hocevar

He said the growth would be supported by the expansion of the dealership network, which has undergone massive change in the past four years.

“We finished 2014 with 46 active dealers in Australia. That’s up from just 19 in 2011. Over the past 18 months we’ve had a strong emphasis on expanding in regional centres.

“In 2015 we will continue to build upon our dealer network and we’ll aim to finish the year with approximately 53 dealers nationwide. This represents a very healthy spread of our dealer network and means that we are continually making it easier for Renault customers nationwide to both buy a Renault and to service a Renault through our authorised network.”

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Hocevar expects the Captur to lead the growth, anticipating around 150 sales per month of the new Clio-based baby SUV, which officially launches in Australia this week (stay tuned for full pricing and specifications details and our review of the car on Thursday).

Captur will enter the sub-$40,000 small SUV segment alongside the Holden Trax, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, as well as the soon-to-launch Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 – aiming for a small slice of the segment that’s expected to grow to almost 100,000 units in 2015.

Hocevar says sales of the brand’s mid-sized Trafic commercial vehicle will take a hit as supply of the outgoing model dries up ahead of the introduction of the all-new model in April/May, while he predicted a similar drop-off for the ageing Koleos SUV.

Hocevar is hopeful the many variants of Megane will be able to hold their ground this year ahead of the planned launch of the fourth-generation hatch next year, while he also expects Clio to build on its strong 2014 result.

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He also said there were no plans to drop the two slowest sellers in the range, the Fluence small sedan and the Latitude medium sedan, which last year tallied just 139 and 96 sales respectively.

“We love all of our children,” Hocevar said with a smile.

“We take a view that they’re very traditional competitive segments, we just don’t tend to play as hard in those segments.

“We don’t want to go into a heavy fight on C-segment sedan and D-segment sedan. We have those sedans for some traditional buyers in our range, for some fleet business as well, and therefore it ticks along, they’re not big numbers, but they’re organic numbers, they just tend to happen for us.

“We don’t tend to put a lot of marketing spend behind those vehicles, and therefore we can continue without it being a burden on the business.

“We may change our position with the next generations of those vehicles, we may decide to change our approach, but at this point in time we’re focusing on our hatches, our crossovers and our commercial vehicle range.”




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