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Renault brings training to Victoria

Big future: Victorian industry minister Lily D'Ambrosio at the announcement of the partnership between Renault Australia and the Kangan Institute's Automotive Centre of Excellence.

New head office to be co-located with the Kangan Institute-operated Renault Academy

Renault logo21 Oct 2015

By IAN PORTER

THE Victoria government has offered Renault Australia financial assistance to bring its apprentice training program from Sydney to Melbourne and locate it in a new headquarters building in the south-eastern suburb of Mulgrave.

Known as the Renault Academy, the training program will be operated by the Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) and is expected to turn out more than 200 qualified technicians over the next five years.

All the apprentices are and will be employed by Renault dealers across the country and brought to Melbourne for their training, starting in 2016.

The Renault Academy will also be used for in-service training on new models.

Renault’s 60-plus corporate staff will occupy a new head office in the same building in February 2016, a move that has come just three years after moving into its current premises, reflecting the company’s recent strong sales growth.

Victorian industry minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government had chipped in $200,000 towards Renault’s $1.5 million move into the new headquarters and the establishment of the Renault Academy.

Ms D'Ambrosio said her department was working on similar deals in a bid to preserve Victoria’s pre-eminence in the automotive skills area, which up to now had been built around the presence of three major car assembly plants and the local supply chain.

The Australian automotive manufacturing industry will close down over the next two years with Ford shutting up shop in October next year, while Toyota and Holden will close by the end of 2017.

“We are proud the be the home of the Australian headquarters of Renault, which has been a very successful business with a national network of service providers and an extensive training program for apprentices and dealer staff,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Dealer staff will also return to this facility time and time again to upgrade their qualifications and become Master Technicians,” she said.

The government saw Renault’s decision to transfer its national training program from Sydney and bring it together with the head office as a vote of confidence in the state.

Ms D’Ambrosio also indicated the Renault Academy could be laying foundations for the automotive industry of the future.

“I would also like to congratulate Justin (Hocevar, Renault managing director) and Renault for having the foresight and confidence to invest in one of the few centres globally where there is a diagnostic centre for vehicle batteries.”

Mr Hocevar said the battery diagnostic centre would also allow Renault to do training and repair work as required.

“At this time, the real focus is on supporting the trials we have in operation, such as the Kangoo ZE we have with Australia Post and a couple of other companies we are working with,” he said.

“I would say the next step is also going to be making sure we have got specifically trained EV (electric vehicle) and ZE (zero emissions) vehicle technicians for our network, so that we can continue to expand trials and, hopefully, eventually sales of electric vehicles in Australia.”

Mr Hocevar said the lithium-ion battery packs used in EVs are a bit more complex that regular lead-acid batteries.

“The lithium-ion batteries and the electronic systems that are used to manage, monitor and cool those high–tech, high-cost batteries are quite complex.

“They need to have their operating temperatures monitored and they also need to have systems that enable the battery to optimise its output and range. Those systems have to communicate with all the functions of the vehicle at any given point in time.”

In his remarks to introduce the minister, Mr Hocevar said the creation of the Renault Academy in Melbourne and the move to a new head office in the same building was the most important moment in Renault Australia’s history.

“Our business is growing, but we are only getting started,” he said.

“Renault has been head-quartered in Victoria since 2001 and has been in Mulgrave since the last three years.

“When I joined the company in 2010 we had just 19 dealers, 25 head office staff and we delivered 1900 vehicles.

“Last year that number had climbed to over 10,000 vehicles and this year we aim to deliver over 12,000 vehicle through our increased network of 50 dealers nationally. Our head office staff has now grown to in excess of 60 employees.

“Since 2001, we have delivered 68,000 vehicles and, therefore, as we deliver more vehicles, the service task for our dealers increases and, therefore, the demand for highly skilled technicians rises.

“Recognising this need, we resolved to build our own state of the art facility that you see here today.

“We have partnered with the Kangan Institute and their Automotive Centre of Excellence to deliver an end-to-end training program for our technicians.”

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