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Renault on the rebound - finally

On show: The Megane R26 at the 2007 Melbourne International Motor Show.

Cautious Renault predicts its local sales will double in the next three years

5 Apr 2007

RENAULT is cautious when it comes to predicting future sales volumes, and who could blame it given the wildly optimistic projections when the French marque was relaunched here by Nissan just six years ago? Back in early-2001, Renault Australia executives predicted that by 2007 it would be the top-selling European marque in this country with 25,000 sales, but now they will be happy to top 3000.

Renault has sold around 3000 vehicles each year since its first full year on the Australian market (2002, when it sold 4565 vehicles), but dropped dangerously to 2860 units last year, down 13 per cent.

Managing director Rudi Koenig, who has been at the helm for a little more than two years, still has ambitions for much better results – though not of the lofty heights of his predecessors.

"We’ve been around 3000 for the last three years, but I think our volume will grow well above that this year," said Mr Koenig.

Further down the track, he expects to double sales in the next two to three years.

"We are (currently) in a lot of niche markets – we are playing in segments that account for only 20 per cent of the market – so we are looking to grow that coverage over the next seven years.

"We have been getting things right – things like finance, the (dealer) network and internal processes – as well as re-establishing the brand position and learning about our customers.

"(Now) we have got to get the right products, in the right segments, at the right prices." Mr Koenig pointed to Renault’s expansion under Carlos Ghosn and his ambitious global product onslaught – 26 models over five years, many in new segments – as a key to the company’s Australian revival.

35 center imageLeft: Clio III and Kangoo (below).

Renault Australia introduced the Grand Scenic at the Brisbane Motor Show in February and followed at the Melbourne show in March with the Megane RenaultSport R26, which will go on sale in limited numbers (about 40 only) from July priced at $44,500.

In June it will release a turbo-diesel Megane sedan (no more than 30 units a month), followed at the end of the year by a turbo-diesel Scenic (another 30 a month), powered by a 1.9-litre dCi engine.

Renault’s van range (Kangoo, Trafic and Master), which has been performing relatively well in the light commercial market, will be upgraded this year.

Late this year (first half 2008 in Australia) will see the launch of the all-new third-generation Laguna, which will return here as a full model range (having coming back tentatively with a turbo-diesel hatchback model only last November).

The big challenge for Renault Australia – and the big volume opportunity – is with the Clio small car, which was last year cut back to a single price-leader model here, called the Campus and priced from $19K.

A new third-generation Clio was launched in Europe more than a year ago. It is a step up in size from the old car, which has continued to be sold as the Clio Campus alongside the new model in Europe.

"We’d like the new car and it is in our plans, but we have got to get the price right, with an entry point of about $21,000," said Mr Koenig.

"It’s great-looking and a great package – but not if it’s not at the right price." Is he confident? "We are always confident." We are likely to see the Clio III arrive here late this year with a Sydney launch of the Renault Sport hot hatch, powered by a 145kW/210Nm 2.0-litre engine and priced above $35,000.

Although Clio will already be well over a year old by the time it is launched here, part of Renault’s revival plan involves reducing lag times for Australia to six months.

What's coming from Renault:


Megane sedan diesel - June
Megane RenaultSport R26 - July
Scenic diesel - October
Kangoo upgrade - October
Master upgrade - October
Trafic upgrade - October
Clio III - October
Laguna III - June 2008

The Road to Recovery podcast series


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