A Renault-badged spinoff of the all-new 2015 Nissan Navara could become a reality.
Keno Kato, Nissan corporate vice president product planning, told CarAdvice at the launch of the all-new Navara that building another version of the new ute under the Renault-Nissan Alliance is possible if the situation would prove to be a “win-win”.
“They are very interested in the Nissan pick-up, naturally,” Kato said. “Pick-up is definitely one of Nissan’s assets. So that’s why.
“If we can be a win-win, why not? Always, always,” he said, but he insisted there was “no pressure” from Renault at this point in time.
Having a utility vehicle would be of huge benefit to Renault in Australia. Locally, the light commercial segment is bolstered by two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive utes, with approximately 180,000 sales per annum.
Getting a piece of the pie appeals to Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar, who told CarAdvice the idea of a ute with the brand’s diamond badge would be an exciting addition to the ranks, despite no firm plans being made public for any such vehicle.
“Of course, because of the size of the 4×4 pick-up market in Australia, and its growth, it makes it an extremely attractive segment for any importer operating in Australia to want to play in,” he said.
“We’d love to play in it, if that opportunity ever became available. What Volkswagen has done with Amarok – a European brand introducing a 4×4 pick-up to the market – is extremely interesting, and we’d love to be able to replicate that,” he said.
However, Hocevar said the business of selling what the brand currently has available was the prime objective right now.
“The bottom line at the moment is that we’re very focused on the van business. That’s where Renault has been number one for 16 years in Europe,” he said. “We’re doing really well with it [in Australia]. We’re positioned now second or third in each of those segments: small, medium and large.”
Hocevar hinted that at this point in time, the company doesn’t quite have the spread of dealers, particularly across the regional areas of the country, to justify any such vehicle were it made available anytime soon.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary, but it’s clear from models such as the 2015 Navara that there is a push for more collaboration and cooperation between the French and Japanese companies.
Kato said the new Navara’s drivetrain – a 2.3-litre turbo diesel which is available with a single-turbo layout producing 118kW and 403Nm and a twin-turbo unit producing 140kW and 450Nm, and comes teamed to a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox (sourced from Renault) – was not developed solely for Nissan.
“Because we share the powertrain with Renault, today our powertrain is named an Alliance powertrain,” he said. “It’s a kind of joint development. At the beginning of the Alliance, the engine was either from the Renault side, or the Nissan side. But today it’s kind of joint-developed.”
Stay tuned for more on the new Navara as CarAdvice is attending the international launch this week in Thailand.