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Renault drops Fluence
Fluence mid-sized sedan discontinued as Renault looks to more profitable models
6 May 2015
RENAULT Australia has dropped its poor-performing Fluence small sedan from the local range to allow the company to concentrate its efforts on “future-generation vehicles” with greater potential.
In recent months the company's smallest sedan has stagnated, with none sold this year and a total of just 139 for the whole of 2014, prompting the French car-maker to halt local supply and turn its attention to more lucrative models and segments.
While sedans versions of some small cars prove popular in Australia – Toyota’s Corolla, the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze for example – Renault says it can’t afford to support niche models that don't earn their keep, given the comparatively lower volumes of its Megane-based Fluence.
That said, while the company is not planning a major marketing push for its Latitude large sedan, which is also ageing and scrapes a handful of sales, it won’t be ushering its bigger sedan to the door just yet.
Speaking with GoAuto at this week’s Trafic van launch in Adelaide, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar confirmed the model had been discontinued in preparation for new arrivals.
“Fluence has ceased supply,” he said. “We reached a point just recently where we decided, where it was in its life-cycle and what will happen next with future-generation vehicles, to stop supply.
“The decision has no bearing on Latitude and it’s purely from the C-segment sedan point of view.
“We’ve been trickling along with a low level of volume mostly for a couple of fleet customers, but it had reached the point where we thought it was better to cease supply and focus on other vehicles.”
Mr Hocevar was not able to elaborate on exactly what the “other vehicles” will be, but a next-generation Megane and expansion into Renault's SUV range are the most likely candidates.
Overseas, the company has already shown a Kadjar SUV that will join the freshly-launched Captur compact SUV, while a replacement for the Koleos is also expected.
Its Megane small hatchback was launched in its current generation in 2010 but received a mid-life facelift in 2013, meaning a replacement model is due soon.
Despite the poor performance of small sedans on Australian turf, Mr Hocevar said Renault had not given up on the segment with the departure of Fluence, and that a future successor would be considered.
“I think it is still an important segment globally and in Australia but I think we will explore it again when the next-generation vehicle is available,” he said.
“We’ve got an expansion in the range with other models and whilst our growth and volume is good, it’s still relatively small in the scheme of things and trying to support too many things is problematic.”
Renault's Latitude has done slightly better in sales this year compared with the Fluence, moving four examples to the end of April, but despite its marginal recognition and age, Mr Hocevar said the model was here to stay for now.
“The volumes aren’t anything to write home about and very modest but by the same token we’re not investing a lot in that vehicle,” he said. “You won’t see any TV campaigns. You’ll see a very low level of digital marketing on it and that’s probably about it.
“Otherwise it predominantly in corporate sales programmes where some people are still in the market for a D-segment sedan that’s of a very high level of spec and at a very reasonable price.”
The diesel-powered Latitude Dynamique sells for $37,490 before on-road costs, while top of the range petrol Privilege version goes for $44,490.
Renault has yet to announce if the Kadjar is coming Down Under and a reveal date for the next-generation Megane is also unconfirmed at this stage.
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