The Renault Alaskan ute has been officially ruled out from being introduced in Australia – but the brand is likely to replace it with a rebodied version of the Mitsubishi Triton, after Mitsubishi recently joined the Renault-Nissan alliance.
The managing director of Renault Australia Anouk Poelmann told media during a briefing in Sydney today “the Alaskan is not suitable in its current form in Australia” but quickly added the brand is “not walking away from the ute market” and would pursue “other opportunities”.
The Renault Alaskan was deemed unsuitable because the suspension is tuned for the European lifestyle market, rather than as an Australian workhorse ute.
A company representative said “it wasn’t a price-led decision” and added that Renault Australia did consider local suspension tuning “but with the sales volume the brand was doing in Australia it is too (expensive) to do that”.
Poelmann said Renault Australia “absolutely are investigating (a ute) but I wouldn’t want to assume it is quick and easy”.
“Give us a little bit more time … we don’t want to replace one promise with another promise,” she said.
When asked if there was a better than even chance of Renault Australia getting a ute in local showrooms one day in the future, Poelmann said: “Yes, absolutely.”
When asked if Renault would expedite the arrival of a ute with a rebadged version of the recently facelifted Mitsubishi Triton – or would the company wait for the all-new model due in two to three years – Poelmann said it was too early to reveal such details.
However, Poelmann said its new ute would look like a Renault and have a unique body. CarAdvice believes this means Renault will likely adapt a version of the alliance ute platform, led by the Mitsubishi Triton ute due about three years from now. The next generation Nissan Navara – also to be based on the alliance ute platform – is understood to be about five years away.
“It would be a true Renault... it would look different,” said Poelmann. “The whole organisation is under new wings. We look at product planning and product development through new and fresh eyes.”
Poelmann said the ute market is “a very important segment in Australia and it's a field where we can play. We are already a volume player in the (light commercial vehicle) segment”.
The axing of a local Renault Alaskan ute puts further pressure on the Mercedes-Benz X Class, which also comes out of the Nissan Navara factory in Spain.
Weak sales of the Mercedes and Renault versions of the Nissan Navara ute globally have put price pressure on Nissan’s manufacturing costs because the suppliers would have agreed to sharper piece prices based on higher volume forecasts.
They can now renegotiate because the volume targets have not been reached.