Note: Major update to story written at the bottom of the text.
Renault Australia is seriously considering launching the Dokker light van — sold in most markets under its Dacia sub-brand — as a new sub-Kangoo budget offering.
Launching the Renault Dokker here would give the French company a small cargo-carrier priced below $20,000. Given the Suzuki APV’s murky future in Australia, it would fill a small market niche nicely.
Note: See update to story at the bottom of the text
The Renault Dokker, as it is sold in markets such as parts of the Middle East (it’s a Dacia in many other regions) is based on the previous Kangoo, and sports a basic design and execution to keep costs down as much as possible.
It uses a tried-and-true 62kW/129Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine matched to a five-speed manual gearbox (0-100km/h in a lazy 14.7sec), sports a 750kg payload, eight tie-down points, steel rims, air-conditioning, relatively modern infotainment with Bluetooth and a range of ‘upmarket’ options like a touchscreen, cruise control and electric windows.
You can also fit dual front airbags, which would be the minimum requirement for Renault, though the lack of side airbags could cause issues. Clearly, the company would also need to get ESC fitted, which isn’t common in some developing markets.
Yet Renault Australia’s light commercial line manager Lyndon Healey said this week that Renault Australia was looking hard at the Dokker — with Renault, not Dacia, badges — and was in negotiations. These, however, appear to be a proverbial moving feast.
Giving further ammunition to Renault Australia’s case is the fact that the updated MY17 Kangoo launched this week. Yes, it got substantially more equipment and a new 1.2-litre turbo engine, but it also suffered a price hike in a cost-sensitive segment.
The entry cost for the Kangoo is now $23,490 plus on-road costs, creating ample space for the more basic Dacia/Renault Dokker, which would certainly come in at under $20,000.
There’s clearly a market — the budget APV, which has bare-bones safety equipment, managed 472 sales last year, giving it 12.6 per cent market share. Given light commercials are a huge part of Renault’s overall sales here, and a big focus for its dealers, the company is keen to expand the range.
This is also not the first time Renault Australia has looked long and hard at a Dacia product. As you can read here, it seriously contemplated bringing the budget Dacia Duster small SUV before deciding the vehicle didn’t fit its brand.
Update: We've since learned that the Renault Dokker is in fact not on the cards for our market.
Despite having a conversation about what was discussed in the story, last week, Renault today stated to us that producing the Dokker in right-hand drive, and to meet Australian safety standards, would not be viable.
We've added this addendum to reflect this miscommunication.