FRENCH FLAG A FORAY INTO UTES
THE French will take on the Germans, Japanese and Americans in the lucrative one-tonne ute class from 2016. Renault has announced it will build a crew cab, which will be an almost certain starter for Australia.
The news follows the announcement that German prestige brand MercedesBenz will build its own onetonner, which is expected in 2017.
The Mercedes and Renault will be cousins of sorts, with both to be developed in joint ventures with Nissan. They will be based on the D23 Navara, which will launch in Australia late next month.
The Renault version is a natural fit given its connection in the RenaultNissan Alliance.
Nissan has already gained from technology transfer between the companies, having sourced a 3.0-litre turbo diesel from Renault for its current D40 Navara. The 550Nm V6 has the most torque in the class and is considered a strong point for the ageing ute.
The Renault ute will be built in Cordoba, Argentina, not far from the Volkswagen plant that makes the Amarok one-tonne ute, and in Nissan’s Cuernavaca plant in Mexico.
Utes for Europe and other markets, including Australia, will come from Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain, which also built some D40 Navara models. The new D23 Navara will be made in Thailand.
The Mercedes ute will be built in Cordoba and Barcelona, alongside the Nissan and Renault models.
Renault Australia is extremely keen to bring in the ute. “The one-tonne ute business case is looking good at this stage,” says spokeswoman Emily Fadeyev.
Renault also announced it is developing a half-tonne ute. The Australian division has confirmed it is not interested in this model.