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Our ute won’t rival Navara: Renault boss

Le ute: Renault will use the underpinnings from its partner’s Navara for its ute, but the French car-maker said its version won’t pose a threat to Nissan and will target more premium offerings such as Volkswagen’s Amarok.

Renault’s Navara-based ute will hunt Volkswagen’s Amarok

27 Nov 2014

RENAULT Australia’s boss has revealed the French-car-maker is now working heavily on a Nissan Navara-based ute but said it won’t be a threat to its Japanese alliance partner’s own version.

The confirmation follows a global announcement made by Renault Asia Pacific region chairman Giles Normand in October that the brand was planning to produce a four-wheel drive utility using shared technology from the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Speaking at the media launch of the Megane RS 275 Trophy in Tasmania this week, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the company was keen to have a model in the lucrative light-commercial ute market.

“There is a big juicy segment within the Australian market that we’d like to play in – that’s the ute market, particularly four-wheel-drive pick-up – that’s a strong market,” he said.

“We know that our alliance partner has some excellent products there and it’s already been announced globally that we’re exploring a collaboration on that front.”

While the Renault ute will use the Navara’s underpinnings, Mr Hocevar said Nissan will not have to worry about the French workhorse becoming a major rival as is the case with platform siblings the Isuzu D-Max and Holden Colorado.

“No, no I don’t think so,” he said.

“Those guys (Nissan) are absolute experts at what they do and that’s their bread and butter. There’s a lot of value behind that nameplate and their network and their tenure on the market.

“But what we can do is take a European designed vehicle, and by adding some of our Latin and French design flair, we might be able to offer something that’s perhaps more competitive to Amarok.”

Mr Hocevar would not say how far along the vehicle was in its development process or when it would arrive in Australia.

“Not for a while yet. But we’re working heavily on that project.”

Mr Hocevar is keeping the proposed names for the French ute secret, but hinted the naming process should have an Australian viewpoint.

“Let’s just say that we’ve made a special request to be on the naming committee of the vehicle.” The four-wheel-drive utility segment is currently led by Toyota’s HiLux with 22,848 sales year-to-date. Ford’s Ranger is in second place with 17,413 followed by Mitsubishi’s Triton on 19,923. Nissan’s Navara is in fifth with 12,686 while Volkswagen’s Amarok is eighth with 6164 sales.

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