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Alaskan not off the table for Renault

Tray chic: The Nissan Navara-based Alaskan was on display at the Paris motor show, and is still on the cards for Australia.

Paris announcement not the end of Renault’s Nissan Navara-based Alaskan ute

17 Oct 2016

NEWS of the demise of the Renault Alaskan ute has been greatly exaggerated, according to Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar.

Reports from the Paris motor show in September suggested that the Alaskan – a restyling of the Nissan Navara style-side pick-up – was not actually confirmed by the company for sale in Australia.

Speaking with GoAuto at the recent launch of the Megane hatchback in northern New South Wales, Mr Hocever suggested that the reports were not accurate.

“The funny thing is that the story that came out of Paris on Alaskan was it's not confirmed for Australia,” he said. “The question that wasn't asked was, ‘What markets is it confirmed for?’“They haven't really confirmed any markets at all. The company’s position still is timing’s not confirmed.”

Revealed as a concept in September 2015 ahead of the Frankfurt motor show, Renault showed a production version of the vehicle in South America in July this year.

Renault-Nissan Alliance will build the vehicle in Argentina and Spain, and there has been suggestions that it could also be produced alongside the Navara in Thailand, with the company set to produce both high-specification dual-cab 4x4 variants and more basic 4x2 cab-chassis versions.

The Alaskan is set to go on sale in the traditionally strong pick-up markets of South America, Africa and South-East Asia.

The vehicle revealed in July used variants of Renault commercial engines under the redesigned front end, including a pair of 2.3-litre single- and twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engines that are used locally in the Master commercial van.

It makes 120kW in single turbo form, while the sequential-turbo version makes 140kW.

A 2.5-litre Nissan-sourced petrol engine and a pair of 2.5-litre diesel motors will also be offered in other markets, including Latin America, where the Alaskan will most likely make its debut later in 2016.

Mr Hocevar has long been a proponent of the ute coming to Australia to complement the brand’s other successful light-commercial models, and says that it is now just a waiting game.

“They’re now showing the vehicle, which is great.,” he said. “We just have to wait our turn in that global rollout strategy, then we can say, ‘okay, here we go.’“It’s a big segment here, so it would be an important vehicle for our market.”

Renault would become only the second European brand after Volkswagen to tap into the segment, although Mercedes-Benz is planning to join the fray in 2018 or 2019 with the GLT that will share the Navara and Alaskan’s platform.

The Toyota HiLux is currently dominating the segment, with Ford’s Ranger closing in in second.

Four-by-four pick-up sales have climbed 11 per cent so far this year compared to the same period last year, while 4x2 sales are up almost 13 per cent in 2016.

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