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AUSTRALIA’S NO.1 AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY JOURNAL EDITION 1032 – JUL 29, 2020
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Renault resets After considering its future in Australia, French brand recommits with new-look, SUV-focused line-up from 2021 – including Arkana!
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By ROBBIE WALLIS
RENAULT has announced wide- ranging changes to its Australian product portfolio, axing all passenger cars bar its image-leading Renault Sport Megane performance model and instead following market trends to prioritise its SUV and light-commercial vehicle range.
At a media briefing this week, the local arm of the French auto giant revealed that it had assessed its long- term viability in Australia during what managing director Anouk Poelmann described as “one of the most challenging periods in our history”.
The result was a decision to remain operating in Australia for the foreseeable future, albeit with a major restructure of its model range and priorities that sees the longstanding Clio light hatch and the niche Zoe electric car deleted from the line-up.
What’s more, the recently introduced Kadjar small SUV will be another casualty of the cutbacks, with Renault Australia instead developing a successful business
case for the all-new Arkana coupe- style crossover that occupies the same segment and will be launched here in the second half of 2021.
Arkana will bolster Renault’s SUV range that in the first quarter of next year will welcome the second- generation Captur light crossover.
An updated version of the Koleos mid-size SUV will check in next year, too, while Renault Australia has also signalled its desire to add at least one large SUV to its line-up by leveraging its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Watch out for RS versions of its SUVs, while further afield the company remains hopeful the second-generation Alaskan ute will enable a long-anticipated entrance into the popular pick-up segment and strengthen its LCV stable that spans the Kangoo, Trafic and Master vans.
Furthermore, the Megane RS comes in for an overhaul next year, and the A110S sportscar from Renault’s Alpine sub-brand is also firming for launch in 2021, joining the current A110.
Continued next pageArkana
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Continued from previous page
Ms Poelmann said the product rollout would play a vital role in helping Renault achieve its goal of retaining and strengthening its market share through the worst of the COVID-19 economic impacts and beyond.
Through the first half of this year, Renault sales have slipped 33.4 per cent to 2621 units, while its market share has slipped from 0.7 to 0.6 per cent. Last year, the brand managed 8634 sales, down almost 14 per cent on the 10,000 units it recorded in 2018.
“In the very volatile market, very unpredictable at the moment, it’s honestly difficult to forecast our volume for the year,” Ms Poelmann said.
“All I can say is that we are probably more focused on maintaining our share of the market. So far we have been tracking well, we are tracking in the right direction when it comes to our share, and our ambition is to always show year-on-year growth in market share.”
Arkana’s confirmation now places Renault as the frontrunner to be the first mainstream brand to offer a coupe-style small SUV in Australia,
joining premium entrants such as the BMW X2 and Audi Q2.
Visually, the Arkana bears a strong resemblance to the Megane hatch, with a nearly identical headlight cluster and front grille, while the wide-set tail-light motif is
also strikingly similar. At the Arkana’s global debut at the
2018 Moscow motor show, Renault Australia said it was keen to secure the model but that right-hand-drive production remained a question mark.
While the Russian version is built on Renault’s B0+ platform, Australian examples will be built in Busan, South Korea, based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s more modern CMF-B platform.
Powertrain options are yet to be confirmed, however the most suitable engine choice is likely the 1.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder found on the Captur and Kadjar. In
the latter it produces 117kW/260Nm. Renault Australia senior product
manager Charly Clercin said the decision to replace the newly introduced Kadjar with Arkana was due to the fact that the Spanish-built Kadjar was already an ageing model when it launched here late last year,
whereas the Arkana is brand-new. As is the case with Koleos, other
advantages with Korean sourcing include shorter lead times and a better pricing position due to reduced shipping costs and the free- trade agreement in place between South Korea and Australia.
The all-new Spanish-built Captur is also underpinned by the CMF-B platform and is set to arrive here next year with a three-variant line- up consisting of the familiar Life, Zen and Intens variants.
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PUBLISHER: John Mellor EDITOR: Terry Martin JOURNALISTS: Robbie Wallis, Callum Hunter, Byron Mathioudakis, Haitham Razagui, Neil Dowling, Nathan Ponchard PRODUCTION: Luc Britten
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By CALLUM HUNTER
GOING into a tyre shop for a wheel alignment or manually tweaking your set-up for optimum performance could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new ‘active wheel alignment system’ (AWAS) developed by Victorian- based company Doftek.
Considered a world-first, Doftek’s new system is claimed to allow for on-the- fly adjustments of wheel camber, caster and toe-in via a three-mode selector switch to cater for varying demands of a particular road and driver.
Compatible with MacPherson strut, double-wishbone and multilink suspension configurations, the system can vary the wheel camber by up to three degrees between normal (zero degrees) and sport+ (-3.0 degrees), with a sport
mode treading a neat middle ground with a camber angle of -1.5 degrees.
According to Doftek co-founder and project leader Geoff Rogers, AWAS addresses many of the key
shortfalls – including weight, cost and compatibility – found in previous attempts.
“Our real-world testing demonstrates that this technology can provide next-generation performance gains to vehicle
manufacturers,” he said. Doftek says the system provides
“at least” a 15 per cent increase in handling performance, 10 per cent reduction in rolling resistance, and a 10 per cent reduction in peak tyre temperatures.
With those figures taken from the first prototype, Doftek has now secured financial support from the federal government’s Advanced
Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to develop the second version which should bring “next- generation dynamic (semi-active) and adaptive (real-time) capabilities” and an “improvement of up to 29 per cent in handling performance observed during initial testing”.
The AMGC is matching Doftek’s investment of $196,425 dollar-for- dollar, taking the total budget for the second prototype to $392,850.
Mr Rogers said the funding provided by the AMGC had allowed the company to accelerate its development and commercialisation efforts into global markets, with a particular emphasis on Europe and Japan.
While the technology will inevitably trickle down into mainstream vehicles, Doftek says the initial targets for AWAS are luxury and performance vehicles
before expanding to also encompass electric and autonomous vehicles.
Discussions around interest levels with OEMs are reportedly ongoing, with Doftek eager to have prototypes fitted to manufacturer test vehicles as soon as business conditions improve in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim being to position the company as a future OEM supplier.
AMGC managing director Jens Goennemann said Doftek typified the strong