“The Koleos is getting a little old,” Hocevar said. “It’s getting towards the tail end of its life-cycle. But we won’t see a new one until 2016.”
The timing means the current Koleos will have been around for nearly nine years by the time the fresh model arrives. It launched internationally in 2008, and locally in September of that year.
The current car is based upon the existing Nissan X-Trail, and as part of the newly ramped-up Renault-Nissan Alliance, the all-new version will share a similar commonality with the new X-Trail which went on sale in Australia just a few months ago, being based on the Common Module Family architecture.
“It will be built on the common module platform, and it will share a lot [with the X-Trail],” Hocevar said.
Renault Australia admits the current car isn’t exceeding the company’s expectations in terms of sales. To the end of June 2014, Koleos sales have dipped by nearly 38 per cent compared with this time last year, with only 535 sales. Mid-size SUVs are down 1.8 per cent, while overall SUV sales are up 2.9 per cent.
Hocevar said the Koleos is up against some stiff competition, but said he thinks the addition of the smaller Captur model (below) – which has been delayed following an anticipated launch late in 2013, but is now due here before the end of the year – will help.
“The arrival of Captur is going to be good for our SUV product business. I think that Captur will also help with one of the biggest challenges around Koleos, and that is its awareness – or lack thereof,” he said.
“RAV4, CR-V, X-Trail, CX-5 – these are household names, and most Australians know those names. And if they’re in the market for a small to medium SUV, they can quite easily go out and have a shopping list of five to 10 vehicles and the Koleos often gets overlooked,” he said.
Hocevar said that the marketing money spent on the better-known models is driven by profits made from sales, and suggested Koleos doesn’t generate enough money to back big marketing campaigns.
“We don’t have as many dealers, we’re not as prominent, we don't have the marketing might of some of those other brands. We’re not on television or [advertising] outdoor month-in, month-out. And therefore what people perhaps don’t know is that one of our best-kept secrets is out there,” he said.
“Time after time, all we hear is ‘wow, I didn’t know this was available’ and ‘it’s much cheaper’ or ‘much better value than I expected it to be’,” Hocevar said. “That just goes to show that for us to fight, with let’s say 1500 sales per annum, that doesn’t generate the marketing might to compete against those other big brands.”
In 2013 Koleos managed 1639 sales in total, a 47 per cent rise on the previous year and a record for the model in Australia. That was driven by a revised model line-up and sharp pricing deals on the entry-level model, and it seems the company will again ramp up the bargain models in 2014.
“I’m very confident that by the time we get to the end of this year, we’ll be very similar – if not better – than where we were last year,” Hocevar said
As for Captur, the delayed launch of the crucial new small SUV was described by Hocevar as “disappointing”.
“It’s going to be the best part of a year behind when we said we would launch the car. But it will come this year,” he said, hinting at a launch in the fourth quarter of the year.
“I think Holden has enjoyed a period with Trax without a lot of stiff competition. And that’s a vehicle that we know we can compete very well against,” he said.