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Renault Alaskan concept design '95 per cent'

French flair: Renault’s Louis Morasse in Paris with the French company’s Alaskan one-tonne ute concept that he says is close to the production version.

Alaskan ute concept close to production version due out next year, says Renault

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Renault logo12 Sep 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

ABOUT 95 per cent of the exterior design of the concept version of Renault’s first one-tonne ute, the Alaskan, will carry over into production next year, according to Renault Group light commercial vehicle development director Louis Morasse.

“The truck will look like this,” he said when showing Australian journalists the concept in the flesh at Renault’s design centre outside Paris. “It is about 95 per cent.”

Canadian-born Mr Morasse declined to name the elements that will not translate into production, but the fanciful exterior mirrors armed with Hasselblad video cameras, and oversized 21-inch wheels with fat tyres will obviously disappear, meaning the major panels, bumpers and grille are likely to be true to production reality.

Developed in parallel with partner Nissan’s NP300 Navara over 30 months, the Alaskan gets a unique design forward of the A pillars, as well as its own real tailgate skin and taillights.

Major panels such as the roof, doors and rear tub are shared with Navara, along with underpinnings and the 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine producing up to 140kW of power.

The interior is yet to be revealed, and Mr Morasse would not say if the Renault cabin would be largely different from the Nissan version.

The show car seen by GoAuto is not a running prototype, lacking an engine and other running gear. Video footage of it was created digitally, as were still images set on background photos taken in Iceland.

According to Mr Morasse, the satin-silver concept is the only Alaskan in existence so far, and no other concepts will be made public before the final production vehicle emerges towards the end of the first half of 2016.

Renault Australia is yet to confirm an Alaskan showroom launch date for Australia, but judging on timelines for other Renault models, the first quarter of 2017 seems likely.

The only Alaskan images released by Renault are of the high-end all-wheel-drive dual-cab variant, but Mr Morasse confirmed other body styles would be forthcoming, in line with the Navara range.

These will include 4x2 and single-cab workhorse variants, among others.

Mr Morasse said other Renault light-commercial vehicles such as the Kangoo, Trafic and Master vans were offered in about 250 variants, and the Alaskan would have about the same.

The Alaskan will be built on the same production lines as the Nissan Navara, but Mr Morasse declined to say which ones.

Spain is thought to be a definite, along with Brazil and Mexico, but it is unclear if the most convenient site for Australia – Thailand – will turn out Alaskans alongside Navaras bound for our market.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar conceded that Thailand, with its proximity to Australia and free-trade agreement, would be best, but he said it was too early to say where the right-hand-drive Alaskan utes would come from.

Mr Hocevar said he saw Volkswagen’s Argentinean-made Amarok as a natural competitor for Alaskan.

Alaskan will be sold globally, with one major exception – North America – where Renault’s presence is non existent.

Ironically, Alaskan is a North American name that Mr Morasse said was seen as desirable by pick-up buyers the world over.

“I feel that everyone on earth who wants to drive a pick-up is dreaming about the United States – places like the Grand Canyon and the Rockies,” he said.

The Alaskan name helped conjure up such images that would take buyers “to this great escape place”.

He confirmed that the Alaskan name would stay for the production version.

Apart from Nissan and Renault versions, the NP300 is also set to spawn a Mercedes-Benz model, thought to be called GLT, under Renault Nissan Alliance’s model sharing agreement with Daimler.

That Mercedes version has been confirmed for production in Nissan’s Spanish factory, but will only come in a twin-cab, luxury configuration and not until after the Renault model has been launched.

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