FRENCH FLAG A FORAY INTO UTES

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels -

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.

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