If Renault continues its current sales success we might all be driving home a little piece of French history
It’s amazing what sales can result when the people flogging the vehicle are actually enthusiastic. The French are renowned for supposedly being extremely passionate. So too are the Italians. It’s just that the French are probably better accountants, which is somewhat important for those in manufacturing.
So, when you mix enthusiasm with passion and add the occasional accountant to keep a lid on the emotions, you get a company that is capable of performing like Renault Australia.
Over the past year (2014 V-Facts), Renault sales of the pocket-sized Kangoo rose by 79.5 percent against its 2013 performance to score 20 percent market share and second place in the sales race behind Volkswagen and the Caddy.
Over the same period, sales of the Trafic mid-sized van rose by 46 percent, scoring 10.3 percent market share and coming in at number-three spot. xHead into the weight category above 3,500 kg GVM and sales of the Master van range rose by 35.1 percent, elevating the Master into fifth spot with a market share of 7.8 percent.
These figures sound impressive, and, although it’s realistic to applaud the sales performance, the question that other competitors should be asking is not why Renault succeeded, but more importantly, why they didn’t? Have their marketing departments lacked focus; are their products incorrectly spec’d or too highly priced for the Aussie market; or is the passion and energy that traditionally sells vehicles lacking?
Due for local release into our market around the middle of the second quarter, in the UK where it already on the road, the all-new Renault Trafic has been named the What Van? 2014 Best Medium Van along with the publication’s Innovation Award for its simple-yet-effective Wide View Mirror that, built into the passenger vanity mirror, reduces the size of the blind spot, aiding safety.
The What Van? award is the second the 2015 Trafic has picked up in recent weeks, having secured the Argus Trophy 2015 in France.
The all-new Renault Trafic came first in five of the seven criteria that were taken into consideration by the What Van? judging team, namely: its environmental footprint, available associated services, travelling comfort, running costs and ‘jury’s favourite’.
With an overall rating of 484 points, the all-new Renault Trafic outscored the Ford Transit 2T (98 points) and the Opel Vivaro (99 points).
According to the judging panel, the all-new Renault Trafic stood out through the energy efficiency and performance of its new twin-turbo engines, its practical cargo area, its driver-friendly controls and the travelling comfort of its cabin, which doubles up as a mobile office.
The new Trafic symbolises how passion about the product can produce a modern, comfortable van that is closely tailored to meet the needs of business customers and contribute to the success of their activity. It also underscores Renault’s reign as the top-selling LCV brand in Europe over the past 16 years.
The Trafic is assembled in France at Renault’s Sandouville plant and went on sale in the UK in September last year available in a choice of three body styles: Panel Van, Crew Van, to carry up to six people and equipment; and Passenger, which seats up to nine people.
Power comes from a choice of four turbo-diesel engines. These start with a single variable geometry turbo with outputs of 66 kW and 84 kW produced at 3,500 rpm (90 hp and 115 hp) with peak torque of 260 Nm and 300 Nm rated at 1,500 rpm. Those looking for higher output can move up to a twin-turbo installation that increases power to 88 kW and 103 kW (120 hp and 140 hp) and peak torque ratings of 320 Nm and 340 Nm produced at the same rpm.
All four engines use common-rail fuel injection technology and are based on a 1.6-litre engine matched to a six-speed manual transmission.
There are three trim levels in the UK, with the top spec’ versions boasting a list of inclusions worthy of a luxury car. Innovative features, such as keyless entry, touchscreen infotainment, mobile office storage and functionality, and sophisticated stability control are available.
The UK options list is certainly broad, offering varying roof heights and capacities, and sliding doors on either or both sides. What is of equal interest is the availability of pre-installed plywood lining and complete shelving and racking systems, something no importer has yet managed to suggest for the Australian market.
Renault Australia is also gearing up to launch its new Master large LCV range. Easily identified by its bold ‘Renault New Brand Identity’ styling, it offers Renault’s new generation of high efficiency, twin-turbo engines, as well as additional safety features such as Trailer Swing Assist.
Engine capacity moves from 1.6 litres in the Trafic up to 2.3 litres for the Master, offering 81 kW, 92 kW, 110 kW or 120 kW all produced at 3,500 rpm. Peak torque outputs range through 285 Nm, 310 Nm, 350 Nm and 360 Nm all rated at 1,500 rpm.
As a result of the wide market acceptance of the New Renault Master, launched just three years ago with a small selection of front-wheel-drive vans, the range now stretches from the city runabout 8 m3 FWD short-wheelbase L1H1 low-roof model, to the extremely large 17 m3, RWD extended-wheelbase L4H3 high-roof model.
Cab/chassis light truck variants were also introduced in late 2013, while, in late 2014, a further version was introduced as the basis for a rear-wheel-drive motor home, with Sunliner the first Australian bodybuilder to base its motorhomes on the Master.
The introduction of the new Master expands the available range, coinciding with the distinctive NBI styling and new high-efficiency twin-turbo engines equipped with fuel saving stop/start technology.
These new variants will take the Renault Master into additional market segments, such as a front-wheel-drive van suitable for local conversion to a passenger bus, and a front-wheel-drive platform cab suitable for bodybuilders and converters. A new 4.5-tonne GVM enhanced payload rear-wheel-drive L3H2 long-wheelbase van now provides 2207 kg payload, compared with 1540 kg offered by the front-wheel-drive van of the same dimensions. The RWD version is ideal for conversion to refrigerated goods transport.
Like the high-roof extended-wheelbase RWD model, the new LWB, RWD mid-roof L3H2 model can tow up to 3.0-tonnes in addition to its internal payload. The LWB RWD mid-roof L3H2 van’s cubic capacity is 12.4 m3 (FWD model 13 m3), accounting for the slight intrusion of the dual rear-wheel axle’s arches.
Renault has also improved the content and value of the optional ‘Pro’ and ‘Premium Packs’ for the van, cab/chassis and new window van models.
As an example, the Premium Pack offered on the Master van range now retails for $2490, and includes driver and passenger side airbags, automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers, front fog lights, climate controlled air-conditioning, rear window demister, cornering double optic headlamps, hands-free key, storage compartment under passenger bench, integrated TomTom satellite navigation, reversing camera and additional door and dash storage compartments.
“In 2014, Renault delivered a record 3393 light commercial vehicles to the Australia market, with the Master cab/chassis winning the Light Truck of the Year Award by Delivery Magazine,” said Lyndon Healey, model line manager for Renault Australia Light Commercial Vehicles.
“With the Master NBI and range extensions, the all-new Trafic to launch later in the year, and a return to full availability of our highly popular Kangoo compact van, we’re looking forward to another big year,” Lyndon says.
The enhanced Renault Master range is now available from 45 Renault dealers across Australia.