Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Renault Megane in Portugal this week, Regis Fricotte admitted that Australian’s deep love affair with sports cars has been fundamental to the brand’s local success.
“I think there are a very few simple reasons [why Renault Sport is successful in Australia].” Fricotte told CarAdvice.
“One is the market: the Australian market has a long history with sports cars, not necessarily with European sports cars, but locally, you know them... so that’s the first thing. The ground is very favourable.
Fricotte says the existence of Renault Sport in the line-up from the very beginning when Renault took over distribution in Australia has been vital.
“From the return of Renault in Australia, until now, RS has been part of the range and we have worked very hard with Renault Australia to make sure that the gap between the launch in Europe and the launch in Australian [is short].
“[We] ensure that the cars are on time and available and there is sufficient volume. That has been developed over the years and I think that is one very big element: consistency.
Other elements that have helped the Renault Sport presence, Fricote says, include the brand’s involvement in Formula One, set to become even richer from the season opener at Albert park in 2016 as the French manufacturer comes back as a full factory team (having taken over Lotus F1) rather than just supplying engines to Red Bull and its sister team, Toro Rosso.
According to Renault Australia, the Australian F1 GP association’s survey of manufacturer awareness (prompted and unprompted) at the event has consistently put Renault at the very top, thanks in large part to its Renault Sport vehicles being actively present at the event.
Renault Sport sales in Australia are growing thanks to the new Clio RS (which so far this year has managed 702 sales, up from 608 last year), while sales of the current Megane RS have tapered off (335 year to date, compared with 444 same time last year) largely due to the vehicle’s age (unveiled in 2009) and ahead of the expected release of the new model in 2017 (which is also likely to be available with an automatic transmission).