Renault is following in the footsteps of its alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi in becoming a virtual SUV-only brand, announcing the departure of the Clio small hatch and the electric Zoe from its local range.
The shrinking small passenger car segment and tiny electric vehicle market in Australia led to the discontinuation of both model lines, according to the company.
Despite growing its brand on the back of small cars here in Australia, the Clio has come off the boil, with just 22 cars sold so far in 2020.
Renault sold 814 Clios in 2019, compared with more than 2500 Koleos SUVs.
The fact that there’s no government incentive for customers to buy EVs (in the case of Zoe) doesn't help its cause... though with only two sales this year thus far and five for the entirety of 2019, it is obvious that demand was not there.
“[Renault Australia] has far greater volume ambitions than Zoe and Clio could offer,” said corporate communications manager Andrew Ellis.
Additionally, the small number of electric vehicle sales “was a hard sell to Renault head office”.
That now means the only non-SUVs the French brand will sell is the performance-focused Megane RS, and the commercial Master, Trafic and Kangoo van line-up.
The keen-eyed would have noticed the omission of the Kadjar SUV which has been subbed out for the all-new Arkana, bringing a coupe-look style to the small SUV segment.
The Arkana will arrive in the latter half of 2021, underpinned by an all-new platform brimming with new technology for the Renault range.
Further product updates include a slightly refreshed Koleos and Megane RS which are said to arrive in the first half of next year.
The first cab off the rank for the new Renault line-up will be the Captur small SUV which will touch down in Australia at the start of 2021.
It will mimic other models in the Renault SUV range by being offered in entry-level Life, Zen and Intens specifications, and Renault hopes to offer the Life variant at a sub $30,000 price point including driveaway costs.
More details around the Captur (above) will be announced in December ahead of the Australian launch.
The retention of the Megane RS is a good sign for fans of sporty Renaults, though the loss of the Clio RS is a blow to performance car buyers on a budget.
Speaking of sports cars and despite much conjecture, the tiny Alpine brand will remain in Australia as a Renault sub-brand, while an announcement is coming soon in terms of product, thought to be the high-performance A110S.
While the South American-built Alaskan dual-cab ute remains unviable for the Australian market, Renault is open to presenting a business case for its successor which will be based on product sourced from within the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance.
Renault says it remains committed to the Australian market despite the significant market-wide COVID-19 rough patch, and nothing is set to change in terms of its 60 dealerships or sales models.
While other brands are contemplating an ‘agency sales’ model rather than the traditional dealership-based set-up, Renault is content with its current network.
“The Australian motoring landscape has changed dramatically in the past 12 months, but Renault is here for the long haul,” said Renault Australia managing director Anouk Poelmann.
Renault has sold some 2600 cars in Australia to the end of June, which is 33 percent fewer than for the same period in 2019.
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