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Sub-Clio light-car not a Renault Australia priority

Off the radar: The current Renault Twingo never made it here, and the next one – due in Europe next year – looks increasingly unlikely for the local market as well.

Renault Australia unlikely to sell next-generation, VW Up-rivalling Twingo

Renault logo18 Jul 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

RENAULT’S focus on its Clio light-car means Australia is likely to miss out on the next-generation Twingo sub-city runabout, due in Europe sometime next year.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the updated Megane range this week, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the Twingo was not currently high on the agenda for the French car-maker.

“Being able to position the next-generation Twingo suitably under the Clio 4 would be really challenging,” he said.

“And not only challenging from a price-laddering point of view for us, because we are being quite aggressive with Clio 4, it is also the fact that that end of the market is super competitive. It’s a really low yield game.”

The current model Twingo first went on sale Europe in 2007 and is not sold in Australia.

Little is known about the third-generation, but it could borrow styling cues from the Twin’Run sports concept that Renault unveiled at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year.

Mr Hocevar said Renault will continue to focus on getting its core models right before considering any additions to its existing local line-up.

“One of the things we have tried to communicate to the market in more recent times is we don’t want to be the jack of all trades, master of none. We would rather be very focussed and very good at what we do in B- and C-segment hatches, very good at what we do in compact and light-SUV and we would like to be very good at Renault Sport models.

“And if we can get all those things right and build our volume base, build our dealer network, build our brand presence and credibility in the market then maybe we can start to look at those add-ons.”

Renault will launch the highly anticipated Clio light hatch range locally in August and has previously hinted that it would compete on price with the Volkswagen Polo and Mazda2.

Last year, Renault’s top-selling vehicle in Australia was the Megane on 1125 units for the year, just edging out its Koleos compact-SUV stablemate that recorded 1116 sales.

Mr Hocevar is confident the Clio will take over the Megane to become the best-selling car for the brand locally, adding that it is “well positioned to.”

The current-generation Clio has sold in very small numbers in Australia as it has only been available in Renault Sport hot-hatch guise.

Mr Hocevar said the introduction of a full Clio line-up could take a little while to gain traction with buyers after not being on their radar for a number of years.

“It would probably take 12 months or so to get going. The Clio name-plate, while it’s kept alive in Australia with RS, hasn’t been available for seven years as a core model.

“When the last one here (Clio 2) as a standard range, in its best year that achieved about 2000 units. We are not selling anything at 2000 units at the moment. And I think that the Clio 4 will be better priced than last time around, better equipped, better warranty, better service program, more dealers. It makes sense.”

Renault is on track to beat the overall sales of fellow French car-maker and arch rival Peugeot this year, with 2873 vehicles sold in the first six months of the year compared to Peugeot’s 2679.

Mr Hocevar said while Renault “keeps an eye” on French car-makers Peugeot and Citroen, the company’s focus in Australia has shifted away from these brands.

“Obviously we would like to be the number one-selling French brand. We want to move up the ranks of being a prominent mainstream European brand and I think we have gone a fair way there now.

“We have turned our attention more and more to the premium end of the Japanese market. Brands like Honda, Subaru and Mazda sit very highly on our radar and I think when you see us price and position our vehicles in the market, we spend a lot more time making sure they sit in a compelling position relative to those competitors, rather than our traditional competitors in Peugeot and Citroen.

Mr Hocevar commented on Peugeot’s positioning of its 208 light car, hinting that the Clio would easily undercut it when it arrives in August.

“And I think one of the greatest indicators of that will be when we launch Clio 4. The approach we have taken there is completely removed from the approach that Peugeot has taken with 208. From a price perspective, from a use of tech, whether its recent or older tech and transmissions, we have really adopted a very different approach.”

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