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Renault's light commercial presence grows

Comfy commercial: Renault is branching out in to more light commercial vehicle avenues including motorhomes. Sunliner takes a bare Master cab chassis and adds a lot of luxury.

Sunliner shakes hands with Renault marking further inroads into LCV segment

Renault logo19 Sep 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

RENAULT has signed a deal with one of Australia's largest motorhome manufacturers to supply its Master cab-chassis model as the basis for a luxurious 40th anniversary Sunliner.

The arrangement is part of Renault's plans to expand its light commercial presence in Australia with more motorhome manufacturers in its sights and “other projects” on the cards.

The latest deal follows a landmark partnership with Australia Post announced last May to supply four all-electric Kangoo vans and a separate ongoing deal to provide a larger fleet of more conventional Trafic and Master vans, but Renault says it isn't done with the commercial segment yet.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said that Sunliner had no objection to Renault approaching other motorhome builders, and the associated infrastructure would benefit all parties.

“We are in the early stages of working with some others as well,” he said. “In our discussions the feedback we've received is 'the more the merrier' because when there's scale behind something, all the support, the trust and the confidence is there.”

But the expanding high-end camping – or glamping – and touring industry is just a small part of Renault Australia’s future light-commercial plans with other avenues already under exploration.

“We are working on some other projects. We want to expand our light-commercial vehicle portfolio. I think we've now got good traction in small, medium and large van segments but there are some other variants we would like to look at,” said Mr Hocevar.

The French brand has experienced some success in the passenger segment with the introduction of its Clio light hatch, but its light-commercial vehicle sales have been the real hero, with an increase of more than 60 per cent so this year, compared with the same period in 2013.

Mr Hocevar sited a holistic approach to the commercial vehicle segment as one of the contributing factors.

“The light-hatch market in Australia is incredibly crowded and we know that it is going to take time to break into that, whereas the number of light-commercial vehicles in cab-chassis, in particular in small medium and large, is relatively light with less competition, so more opportunity for us to push into those segments and win some business,” he said.

“You have got to have a retail orientation. When you have got that view of the world you can work backwards to finding the right solution.

“The way the brand (Renault) used to operate and the way some other brands still operate is a very wholesale way.”

Mr Hocevar explained that some competitors regard themselves only as national sales companies focused on wholesale, leaving dealers to conduct their business as they wish.

He added that Renault Australia's more comprehensive approach gives buyers more confidence in its products, whether they be private buyers, body retrofitters or large-scale fleet operators.

“We keep it a bit further down the sales funnel, to consider the end-user's needs and then fit a solution,” he said.

“You've got to be able to cater to the end user and you've got to back it up with the right support.”

While Renault is not the sole supplier to Sunliner, Mr Hocevar said by offering a product that is backed up by an extensive national aftersales network, its range would continue to fair well against the competition from Fiat, Mercedes-Benz and Iveco who's vehicles also provide the basis for Sunliner models.

“The only influence we can have is by giving them the right product and support so that their product is in demand and the customer will ultimately decide,” he said.

“If we make their lives easier they'll do more business with us and I think that's our commercial opportunity”

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