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Market Insight: Renault stays on course

Renault aims to ‘stabilise’ annual sales between 8000-10,000 units in Australia

19 Feb 2024

WITH so many brands competing for ever-tinier slivers of market share it is easy to wonder how some car-makers make a profit in the Australian market, yet Renault is among several that is happy to continue selling mainstream products in numbers that will not threaten the likes of market leader Toyota. 


Some brands are happy to keep going along as they are, without grand market-conquering sales aspirations.


According to Renault Australia general manager Glen Sealey, when Ateco Group took over from the factory-owned distributor in 2021 the aim was to “stabilise” sales to and that annual deliveries of “between 8000 to 10,000 was about right for the brand”.


While Renault Australia enjoyed a sales increase of almost 25 per cent between 2021 and 2022, numbers tapered off last year, slipping 9.4 per cent from 8855 units in 2022 to 8024 in 2023.


Mr Sealey accurately predicted this when he spoke to GoAuto at the local Megane E-Tech reveal in February 2023.


It has been a fluctuating numbers game for Renault Australia in the last decade. While the most vehicles Renault has sold here in recent times was 11,525 in 2015, numbers went in reverse in subsequent years until Ateco took over in 2021.


Renault sales dropped from that 2015 high to just 6904 delivered in 2020, then turned around with 7099 in 2021 and that 25 per cent jump to 8855 units in 2022. 


While Renault may have eased off volume in its most recent annual tally, it appears to be doing better under new management so far.


Part of the reason for the lack of a return to five-figure plus sales is a lack of product availability. 


Even though small petrol cars are not a growing market, the non-RS Megane range was dropped in 2018 and the Clio altogether in 2020, which pulled a combined total of about 1800 potential sales out of the market. 


Meanwhile, much of Renault’s shortfall in the 2023 result was due to having next to no stock of the Kangoo small van.


Although the segment in which the Kangoo competes is not big on volume overall, Renault sold 508 Kangoos in 2022, with just the remaining stock of 18 units in 2023.


The arrival of a new-generation Kangoo E-Tech battery electric van in Australia next month, with internal combustion engine versions to follow shortly after, will help reverse the numbers for 2024.


When talking to GoAuto at the Australian Megane E-Tech launch last week, Mr Sealey added that Renault sales had dropped in 2023 due to the Megane RS hot hatch being discontinued and tight supply of the Captur light SUV.


“That was for two reasons; supply was down and we also probably haven’t pushed them as hard,” he admitted.


The ageing Renault Koleos medium SUV remains the brand’s best seller here, with 2776 units sold in 2023, up 8.8 per cent over 2022. 


While Mr Sealy would not talk on a Koleos replacement, he did knock down the prospect of a fresh model anytime soon.


“We see legs in Koleos right though, as long as we can take it. It’s a good car, it’s good value in the marketplace. But we would see production of that car until at least late next year, if not longer.”


The Arkana small coupe-SUV has slowly increased in volume over the last three years, with 1572 sold in 2023, up 12.4 per cent. However, the Captur was down 22.2 percent in 2023, with 939 sold. 


According to Mr Sealey, there is remaining dealer stock of Captur in Australia but once that has gone, there will be no further shipments until the updated model is ready and these are not expected until Christmas at the earliest.


“The stock in the dealer network is limited, and can’t renew supply for some time; we’re out,” he said.


“There are production shortfalls due to high global demand on the car, so we won’t see a new Captur until the facelift arrives.”


Renault Groupe undertook sweeping global reforms in 2020 to pare back fixed costs by €2 billion ($A3.3b). Renault chair Jean-Dominique Senard said at the time that his focus was on reducing engineering costs.


This has had ramifications locally, with unique Australian Design Rules (ADRs) for safety, emissions and anti-theft requirements adding engineering time – and cost – that has to be justified more than ever.


“If it’s available in right-hand drive, and it stacks up as a business case and for the customer, we’ll bring it in,” said Mr Sealey.


However, Mr Sealey was frank about Renault’s place in the market – economic fluctuations notwithstanding.


“If the economy stalls, it’ll be less (than the projected 8000-10,000 annual sales). If the economy goes like hell, it’ll be more. But we see that’s about where the brand exists.”

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