French marque’s aggressive local arm lobbying hard to get right-hand drive Arkana SUV
Renault Australia wants to keep the ball rolling on its recent product announcements, signalling an intent to get the Arkana crossover here – if it can.
The company announced this week that it wanted this “mould-breaking” product to join its ranks, calling it a “fantastic fit”and saying it was “pushing hard” to get it made in right-hand drive (RHD).
Arkana is a sleek, sedan-like counterpoint to the more traditional Kadjar, which was itself just confirmed for our market. It’s also conceptually similar to something like the Mazda CX-4 ‘coupe SUV’, or a cut-price BMW X4 alternative.
It goes on sale in Russia later this year. Before you get too curious, Russia is Groupe Renault’s number-two market, and is set to be number one. Between its eponymous brand and its control of Avtovaz (Lada’s parent), it has 28 per cent market share.
But the Arkana is billed as a vehicle with global aspirations attached, with Renault even going so far as to cite its intended “key role” in its aggressive global expansion plan under the wider Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
The big question as flagged is whether Renault includes right-hand drive production in this business plan, given that the vast majority of Renault’s sales are to left-hand drive markets.
Reading between the lines, Arkana’s next market after Russia will be China, where it’ll rival market-exclusive offerings like the CX-4 and imminent Skoda Kodiaq GT.
“Arkana will be introduced in other regions of the world, beginning with Asia where it will be manufactured and adapted to local expectations”, Renault says.
Renault Australia’s best hopes are either that the UK pushes hard for the Arkana and secures production in Europe alongside the Kadjar/Megane, or better yet, Renault’s South Korean operation produces it alongside the Koleos for markets like ours, and potentially Japan.
Renault’s local arm is always fighting battles of this type, having just secured Kadjar, and being unable to make financially sustainable business cases for cars like the Scenic and – for now – the Alaskan ute (it’s working hard to redress the latter, it claims).
However, as its volumes grow locally, so will its bargaining position. It has sold just under 7000 cars here this year, giving it 0.9 per cent market share.
“Our ambition for Renault Australia is to become a strong player in the SUV segment. We’ve already seen success with our top-selling Koleos and Captur and our intention is that in the future we will have an SUV that perfectly matches the various lifestyles of all Australians,” its local boss Andrew Moore said this week.
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