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Renault’s vital rollout begins

In the van: Renault's Kangoo is one of eight new or upgraded models on the launch pad for 2010.

All-new models with keener pricing to lift Renault’s profile in Australia this year

29 Mar 2010

RENAULT’S facelifted Clio Renaultsport Cup is the beginning of a busy year for the French car-maker.

According to managing director Rudi Koenig, everything is now in place for the brand to turn around sales in Australia after a year that he describes as “lousy”.

But only modest growth of about 250 sales is envisaged for 2010 over 2009’s 2400 unit levels, with the real volume uplift forecast for next year as the impact of the cheaper new mainstream Renaults is felt in the marketplace.

Leading the charge is this month’s release of the revised Clio Renaultsport 200 Cup, a two-pronged tilt at the hot-hatch class currently ruled by the Volkswagen Golf GTIRenault says Australia is one of the keenest Renaultsport markets in the world, with performance fans demanding the latest out of Europe.

In fact, Mr Koenig added, the inclusion of the Cup-only chassis for the latest Clio RS (featuring tauter suspension and quicker steering response for a sportier driving experience) underlines Renault in France’s flexibility to accommodate Australian market demands.

Next up is the mildly massaged Koleos, out in May with a different spoiler, new colours, multimedia capability and standardised satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Prices should remain steady despite the specification increase for what has become Renault’s most popular single model (more than 1000 were sold in 2009).

35 center image From top: Renault Fluence, Renault Megane hatch, Renault Megane RS250 and Renault Trafic.

Volkswagen’s big-selling Caddy light commercial vehicle will be in the crosshairs of the second-generation Kangoo van which, come midyear, will boast a bigger, roomier and more refined body, a car-like driving experience (courtesy of the Scenic people mover base underneath), new diesel engine applications and an uprating of the payload on some models.

Also out by July will be the revised Trafic midsized van, tackling the Volkswagen Transporter and co with more equipment levels and an upgraded cabin, among a host of tweaks.

But in terms of becoming a serious player in the Australian market, all these pale against the arrival of the third-generation Megane range around the last quarter of this year.

The small-car onslaught will be a three-pronged affair, featuring the Turkish-made Megane hatch to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308. Renault promises it will be its most competitive priced vehicle in living memory the completely redesigned French-sourced Megane CC will again be pitched right into Volkswagen Eos territory and the Fluence sedan will join the Koleos in coming from the Renault-owned Nissan-Samsung alliance in South Korea.

France will also be manufacturing the RS 250 Coupe – the Megane-based hot-hatch that is shaping up to be one of the most exciting small-car tearaways to ever be offered for sale in Australia.

All should improve on their respective predecessors’ limited sales appeal.

“Renault’s performance last year was lousy ... we were down 24 per cent, which was in line with most Europeans with VW being the notable exception.

“But we made a conscious decision at the beginning of last year not to be the rental sales business like we were in 2008 … and if you take that out of the equation our sales only actually dropped 10 per cent. And we kept our market share of 0.3 per cent and kept our number eight ranking among European importers.

“And apart from the Koleos that was launched in late 2008 we did start the year with an old model range.

“Renault’s representation in Australia dropped from 43 per cent to 31 per cent last year. We didn’t have the Megane hatch and the Megane sedan. And these are the key products that we dropped.

“Our plan is that we are going to bring in a lot of new products. In 2010 we are looking for some rebound … with about a 10 per cent growth on last year’s numbers.

“And we will go from being a predominantly French sourced manufacturer to taking advantage of Renault’s globalisation in sourcing products from more affordable production bases.

“We will start delivering models into Australia that are far more aggressively priced for real volume opportunities.

“Today is an important milestone for Renault Australia, with the launch of a new product range. At the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October we will be revealing and launching the rest of our range.

“This year there will be eight new or upgraded models launched onto the Australian market.

“So if anybody asks whether Renault is committed to Australia ... Renault is determined to succeed in this market … and the new model range is testimony to that.”
2010 Renault model rollout:
March: Clio Renaultsport Cup facelift
June: Next-generation Kangoo light van range
July: Trafic MY10 specification upgrade
September: Next-generation Megane Renaultsport 250
Q4: Next-generation Megane hatch
Q4: Next-generation Megane CC Coupe Convertible
Q4: Fluence sedan

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