Renault Ute Now Closer: Not A ?Badge-Engineered? Navara Photo:
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Tim O'Brien | Feb, 04 2015 | 4 Comments

Above: Renault's 2014 Dacia Duster Oroch concept could preview its coming global pickup.

Renault Australia MD Justin Hocevar has confirmed what many motor industry watchers consider “a given”: that, yes, he wants the Renault version of Nissan’s upcoming new Navara in Australian Renault showrooms.

And it won’t simply be a Navara with a Renault badge on the nose: he also said that it will have its own Renault sheet-metal and Renault styling, though the platform and drivetrains will be shared.

In fact, read between the lines of Mr Hocevar’s responses (following), and, London to a brick, the ute is on its way.

“We’re not hiding the fact that this is a very important vehicle and that we’re very interested in it. In fact, we’re working hard on the business case (for Australia) and it is looking extremely good,” Mr Hocevar said.

“Timing is not confirmed, there is still some time to go, but we’re extremely pleased.

“We’re glad we’ve got this visibility in the time-line so that we can get all the things right in advance,” he said.

Renault's new pickup will get its own styling, while sharing the mechanical package of the new Navara (above).
Renault's new pickup will get its own styling, while sharing the mechanical package of the new Navara (above).

“(Like) we’re expanding our dealer network and expanding our regional presence, so that not only can we pick up on sales in those regional centres but that people can have confidence from a servicing and vehicle back-up point of view.

“Given the size of that utility market, it represents a real opportunity for us.

“We’ve got great credibility that comes from our alliance partner. This (type of vehicle) is their bread and butter and it’s great that we can share the platform and vehicle technology with them,” Mr Hocevar said.

So, yes, that reads like a confirmation: it’s no longer a “maybe”, it’s “when”.

And why wouldn’t Renault Australia be champing at the bit to get a commercial ute into its showrooms here?

Renault Australia MD Justin Hocevar: Renault ute "looking extremely good"" class="small img-responsive"/>
Renault Australia MD Justin Hocevar: Renault ute "looking extremely good"
Over the past five years, Renault has been a quiet achiever among the minority marques.

Last year it sold more than 10,000 vehicles - more than Renault has ever sold in this country.

More to the point, it has achieved consistent, strong, year-on-year growth and is expecting to extend its dealer base from 47 to 53 dealers in 2015.

A Megane that has managed to establish and grow a beach-head in the small car class has helped the cause, so too a very appealing Clio.

And, certainly, the new Captur that we drove at launch yesterday (review embargoed till Thursday 5:00pm) provides at least one more reason for optimism for the French brand here. This one will win a lot hearts, and quickly.

But it’s the success of Renault’s light commercial sales here that make the strongest case for the inclusion of the ‘Renault Navara’ at Renault dealerships.

The Trafic has become one of the favoured ‘tool-boxes’ among trade and delivery drivers.

It now sits at third in its segment holding 10.3 percent of sales, and, in 2014, its 46.0 percent growth blitzed all comers in the segment.

Coming or going, Captur will win hearts.
Coming or going, Captur will win hearts.

And while it is well-beaten by the HiAce’s 46.2 percent market share, the Trafic, Kangoo and Master commercial vehicles are bringing growing numbers of trade and fleet shoppers into Renault dealers.

Add a robust 4X4 twin-cab ute to that picture, and Renault Australia suddenly has a sizeable blanket thrown over the light commercial market.

But there's more (while we're mulling over possibilities). Given that we know that Nissan is also developing a heavy-duty 4X4 SUV off the same platform, and the popularity of these vehicles in emerging markets in Africa and South America where Renault has an established presence, you might also posit such a vehicle with a Renault badge.

Yes, this is a space to watch. (Also watch for our Captur review - a real surprise at the wheel.)

MORE: Renault LCVs | Renault | Pickups

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