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Renault Australia steps up LCV presence

Now available: The new Master completes Renault Australia's burgeoning LCV line-up.

All-new Master projected to help Renault conquer 25 per cent more LCV share in 2012

Renault logo17 Feb 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

RENAULT Australia sees the light commercial vehicle market as a key plank in expanding on its strong sales growth during 2011, forecasting its all-new Master large van to boost its LCV volume by 25 per cent this year.

Managing director Justin Hocevar said at yesterday’s Master press launch that the brand projects 800 LCV sales in 2012 - up from 615 last year - representing roughly 20 per cent of its expected total sales volume.

“I think that’s a realistic stepping stone for us,” he said. “We are very serious about our LCV range here in Australia and I personally see it as one of the greatest opportunities for the brand and our future growth.”

The lion’s share of Renault’s LCV sales in 2011 came from the new-generation Kangoo light van (294 sales) and facelifted Trafic medium van (253 sales). The brand sold just 68 previous-generation Masters, having run dry on stock following the new model’s overseas launch in May.

These figures represented significant growth for both the Volkswagen Caddy-rivalling Kangoo and the Toyota Hiace-sized Trafic, sales of which rose by 320 per cent and 59.1 per cent respectively.

 center imageLeft: Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar. Below: Renault Trafic, Kangoo, Mercedes-Benz Citan.

The brand expects sales of both the Kangoo and Trafic to stabilise this year, with the bulk of new volume to be taken up by the Master.

Renault Australia corporate communications co-ordinator Emily Ambrosy told GoAuto the brand expects each of its three models will neatly contribute around a third of total volume, meaning roughly 270 sales each.

Mr Hocevar said that: “It’s still early days for us in this area. We had some good wins in 2011, and we have now got this new Master flagship. Now with a full portfolio we’re really ready to hit the market hard.

“We’ll continue to work on developing the LCV business. There’s plenty of opportunity for and we’ve already taken the leading position in terms of any of the French brands here with LCVs.

“We need to continue to win share from some of the bigger fish.”

These bigger fish include the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2248 sales in 2011), Ford Transit (1444 sales) and Volkswagen Crafter (469 sales).

LCV sales make up a significant portion of the brand’s sales in Europe. For 14 consecutive years Renault has topped the sales charts, ahead of the brands that have so far trounced it in the sales race here.

In Europe, Opel and Nissan sell their own rebadged versions of the Master – called Movano and NV400 respectively – due to the former’s co-development deal with Renault through parent company GM and the latter’s long-standing alliance with the French brand.

Neither model, however, is projected to go on sale in Australia, giving Renault sole ownership of the Master template here.

Mercedes-Benz will release a new small van in Australia later this year called the Citan, whicht will be based on – and built alondside – Renault’s Kangoo Further ahead, Renault has confirmed it is well down the path on the business case for the introduction of the fully-electric Kangoo ZE in late 2012 or 2013 – which would be the first of its kind Down Under.

We drove this peek into the future of LCVs in Portugal last year and found it to be a tempting alternative for relatively low-mileage commercial drivers.

Expect to see more Renault dealers in the near future too, with Mr Hocevar outlining the brand’s desire to boost its network in Australia by one-third by the end of 2012, which would give it 30 dealers nationwide.

“We are in the process of appointing new dealers around the country and these will provide functions for both passenger and LCV,” he said. “In fact, we’ve already signed three franchise agreements year-to-date.”

Mr Hocevar conceded that not all of the new dealers may open their doors by year's end, but told GoAuto the brand at the least "anticipates having all the franchise agreements in place".

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