Despite plenty of enthusiasm from Renault’s local office, the Navara-based Renault Alaskan dual-cab utility won’t be arriving in Australia before 2018.
Strong demand from markets in South America has seen the local launch timing for Australia pushed into 2018, frustrating Renault Australia’s efforts to cash in on booming demand for body-on-frame utilities.
“I don’t think we’ll see it inside of 2017, not for Australia,” Renault’s local boss Justin Hocevar told Wheels.
“We just don’t sit as one of the early launch markets. There are a number of other markets that are well and truly ahead of us.”
But that hasn’t dampened Renault Australia’s enthusiasm for the Alaskan, which grafts a uniquely Renault nose and tailgate onto the Nissan Navara NP300’s cabin and tub. With around 40 percent of Renault Australia’s sales being accounted for by the Kangoo, Trafic and Master commercial vans, the company sees great potential in adding a more versatile utility model into the mix.
But what will set it apart from the Nissan Navara? The Alaskan shares its engine range, transmissions and almost all of its interior furniture with its Nissan-badged cousin, however Hocevar believes there will be enough points of difference to separate the two in the market.
“There’s an opportunity for us to bring a little bit of refinement to the vehicle in a true Renault or French way,” he said, “and obviously we’ll also support the vehicle with our Peace Of Mind package – encompassing service intervals, warranty, capped-price servicing, roadside assist and so on.”
In a segment where even less popular players like the Volkswagen Amarok reliably sell in excess of 400 to 500 units per month, the Alaskan could quickly become Renault Australia’s highest-selling product.
“Alaskan has the potential to be one of our most popular models,” Hocevar said.
“If you think of the size of the pickup market in Australia, its growth and where our network will be by the time we launch – yeah, we’ve got a very good opportunity from a market coverage point of view.”