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No halt for Renault Australia growth

Coming soon: The new look Renault Koleos will appear in late-November with a redesigned nose and tail treatment.

Renault aims to continue sales momentum with new models and bigger dealer network

7 Oct 2011

REVITALISED car-maker Renault shows no signs of slowing the sales growth it has experienced in Australia over the past year, with two new or revised models and three more Sydney dealerships in the pipeline for the final stages of 2011.

Before the year is out, the brand will have released a facelifted Koleos compact SUV and a new Master large-sized van, as well as two new “prominent” dealers in Sydney and one in the city’s outer-metropolitan area.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said at last week’s launch of the new Megane diesel the company is “in the process of appointing new dealers Australia-wide, but we’re paying particular attention to the city market at present. We know that we’re under-represented in that area”.

According official VFACTS figures, Renault’s local sales are up 91.8 per cent so far this year compared to the same period in 2010, with 2513 units sold to the end of September.

The French brand has chalked up this growth thanks to the release of several new models such as the Latitude, Fluence and Megane, as well as the five-year warranty available on most of its passenger vehicles, plus cut-rate finance offers.

The company estimates it could achieve a further 25 per cent sales growth in 2012 compared with this year, thanks to a full year of sales of its new Megane diesel, Master van and refreshed Koleos, as well as a bigger marketing push on its Latitude large sedan.

Mr Hocevar said the brand would also look to gradually grow its presence in the fleet market, stating that “it’s not our ambition to make a dramatic shift towards the lion’s share of our volume coming through fleet sales but we need to see a reasonable proportion of it.”

 center imageLeft: Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar. Below: Renault Master, Kangoo ZE and Fluence ZE.

The revised Koleos will appear in late-November with a new-look nose and tail treatment and a redesigned interior fascia chief among the changes.

While it remains the company’s second most popular model in Australia for the year behind the Megane five-door hatch, its 422 annual sales give it just 0.5 per cent share of the booming compact SUV segment led by cars such as the Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai ix35.

Mr Hocevar said the Koleos had “not seen as many sales as it should have in this market”.

“It exists in a very strong, growing market segment so we’ve got a lot of work to do there and we will succeed with this vehicle. We will fight very hard and we will be aggressive in this space.”

The new Master should follow on the heels of the Koleos, and Renault hopes this model will help it better tackle rival products like the Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter.

The brand, which claims it has been Europe’s leading producer of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) since 1998, says it will invest heavily in growing its presence in that segment in Australia with the three-pronged line-up of Kangoo, Trafic and Master.

Mr Hocevar said Renault Australia sees “huge porential” in the LCV business. “Given our number one status in Europe there is no reason why our very well-received LCVs can’t do better in the Australian market.”“We’re going to pay particular attention to our LCV business moving forward.”

This also bodes well for the local release of the fully-electric Kangoo ZE small-sized van, which will go on sale in Europe later this month and could appear here before the end of 2012.

Although nothing has been officially confirmed, Mr Hocevar considers the electric Kangoo “very attractive for the Australian market”, adding that “it makes sense for us to expand our EV range over a period of time”.

Renault Australia will release its first EV onto the local market for public sale from the final quarter of next year in the form of the Fluence ZE, with support from EV infrastructure provider Better Place, which will provide swappable battery packs under a leasing scheme.

The company has already begun targeting fleet buyers for the zero emissions Fluence, which it says will come with a similar price-tag to a comparatively sized and specified petrol vehicle. However the price however does not include the cost of leasing the batteries or the use of Better Place’s power grid.

Renault Australia spokesperson Emily Ambrosy told GoAuto the company was working with companies such as General Electric – which has committed to purchasing 1000 electric vehicles in Australia by 2015 – and energy provider ActewAGL through its ties with Better Place.

Further afield, the next-generation Clio light car is shaping up as a likely to addition to the range in 2013, around six months after the model goes on sale in Europe.

Should it get the green light from global headquarters, Renault Australia will bring in entry-level Clio variants to tackle cars like the Volkswagen Polo and Peugeot 207, unlike the current-generation car which can only be had here in RS hot hatch guise.

The brand will also have an approved used vehicle scheme up and running early in 2012 which it says – in tandem with its relatively generous warranties – will further help improve the resale value of its products.

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