Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker told CarAdvice at the 2014 Paris motor show that the new Navara-based ute - which CarAdvice first reported on back in July - is likely to present some styling struggles.
“This is quite a fun challenge, because to design a ute in the centre of Paris is an interesting challenge,” he said. “This is not a ute country, and half of my designers are French.”
The Dutch designer said he knows what he wants to achieve for the new utility vehicle, which is expected to follow the Navara’s path and be offered in single-, space- and double-cab versions.
“Luckily I spent ten years in the US, so I have an appreciation for trucks,” said van den Acker.
Some key elements will be shared between the two utes, including the roofline, door shutlines and general size of the vehicle. However, what van den Acker and his team do from there appears to be open to interpretation.
“We have a very good collaboration with Nissan. Nissan is obviously protective of their design, so we need to make sure that if we were to do a truck that it would be different enough to Nissan – different enough to be comfortable,” he said.
“We should share everything underneath, and differentiate the visible parts,” he said.
“I think the most important message is Renault wants to cover more areas of the world, we want to cover more segments – and that's the big strategic thought behind it.”
Renault won’t only build a Navara-based model for world markets, but a second small ute for the Latin American market.
“In Sao Paolo next month we'll be launching a concept car that previews a small pick-up truck,” he said. “The only platform we could possibly have in South America is the Duster.”
CarAdvice has reported on this model in the past, and van den Acker suggested that it was vital for brands like Renault to be a part of those sorts of markets.
“There are markets like South America and the US where 50 per cent is pick-up trucks. If you don’t have it, you don’t play,” he said.
“There, it’s – small utes, at least – a market that is very much lifestyle, but still functional, and it competes with cars like the Fiat Strada,” he said.
However, he didn’t expand on whether there are plans for the HiLux-rivalling ute to head to North America.
There was no real give-away on when we can expect to see the Renault ute, as van den Acker only stated that the “one-tonne pick-up is something that is scheduled for later”.
How much later is a mystery, but CarAdvice understands that Renault Australia dealers are heading to Europe to see the potential designs of the new ute in the coming weeks, ahead of a potential roll-out in 2016.