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The current tough sales climate in the Australian car market has led market minnow Renault Australia to cut back its local staff and re-evaluate its sales expectations, but there’s no suggestion it’s closing its local operations.

Managing Director of Renault Australia, Rudy Koenig, told CarAdvice that the staff cutbacks had included the company’s public relations manager, Craig Smith, and left the French-based, majority owner of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, with about 20 staff in Australia.

He denied reports that the company, which has sold just 944 vehicles in Australia this year, was closing its Australian operations, adding that it had to be remembered that Renault in Australia was able to use the support operations of Nissan in Australia.

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Mr Koenig said Renault was looking forward to a much better second half of the year from a sales standpoint, having just released the Laguna Estate.The Laguna has so far failed to excite the local car market with sales dropping from 196 last year to just 26 vehicles this year.

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The only real stand out in the Renault sales figures this year has been the Korean-built Koleos SUV, which has accounted for 366 sales.

He said sales so far this year had not been up to expectations and said Renault was currently down about 18-20 per cent on last year’s figures.

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“Our situation is pretty consistent with the overall industry decline, I think, and like the rest of the industry we are expecting things to pick up later in the year,” Mr Koenig said.

He added that the Federal Government investment allowance had helped business sales in the past two months and, like most of the industry, May had been a good month.

He said that there had been a reappraisal of priorities and the international division of Renault would be playing a bigger support role in the Australian operation.






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