The arrival of Renault's Captur compact SUV has been delayed by 4-5 months as unprecedented international demand soaks up supply.
And the delay comes at a bad time for Renault, which is struggling to move meaningful numbers of its only current SUV here, the Koleos.
Although the Koleos has never commanded a large slice of the medium SUV market, current sales see it account for less than one percent of overall medium SUV volume. Last month, just 91 of the little wagon left dealer forecourts.
"We’re not completely satisfied with our Koleos volume," he said to TMR at the recent launch of the Clio GT, "we’d certainly like to do more with that vehicle.
"We think it’s an underrated offering in that market and that has a lot to do with its nameplate just not being as visible as its competitors.
"To be honest I think it’s got a lot to do with marketing to bring about the awareness of that vehicle, but as I said, the challenge in doing that is that in a highly-competitive market we don’t quite have the financial horsepower to do it just yet."
The arrival of the smaller Captur was supposed to boost Renault Australia's fortunes in the SUV segment as well as launch it into the growing small SUV market alongside vehicles like the Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke and Holden Trax,
However recent delays has seen the Captur's ETA extended to the end of the third quarter this year.
"It was supposed to launch in the first half of the year, so we are delayed. Frustratingly so," Mr. Hocevar said.
"We’re probably going to be launching Captur 4-5 months behind schedule," he continued.
"There’s been a few complications, one being the delays with homologation to Australian Design Rules.
"The vehicle has got a sliding rear bench and the central mounting point for the child seat top tether was a little problematic from an ADR perspective, but we’ve overcome that.
"That put us behind by weeks, not months, but the real thing that’s slowing us down is the international demand on this vehicle.
"It’s been a runaway success. It’s the third top-selling vehicle in France, and it’s right up there in the top-ten-selling vehicles of all Europe.
"But it’s not just Europe, its demand in other markets is also very high.
"South Korea is a great example. When Captur was released there using an online sales model, the first 7000 units sold out in under an hour."
According to Hocevar, if production at Renault's Spain assembly plant can keep up demand, the Captur should be launching locally within the third quarter of this year or very early in the fourth quarter.
As for pricing and specification, details will be released closer to launch. However Hocevar did indicate that pricing would be similar to that of the current segment leader the Holden Trax, which retails from $23,490 for the entry-level Trax LS.
"I think we’ll be highly competitive against the volume-sellers in this emerging segment," he said.
"The one that’s selling the strongest at the moment is Holden Trax, and they’re hitting about 500 sales per month right now and I think from a pricing and specification point of view that’s probably the best reference point to where we’ll be in the market."
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