Fleet News

Paris Motor Show: Renault, Nissan, Hyundai and Chrysler

THE world’s car manufacturers were out in force at the Paris Motor Show with a host of launches. In the second instalment we visit the Renault, Nissan, Hyundai and Chrysler.

Renault: new Twingo to be available in right-hand drive

RENAULT’S SUV will be called Koleos when it is launched in 2008, and will closely resemble the concept shown in Paris.

After dabbling in SUV concepts for a number of years, its design looks to be finally set. Based on the same platform as the X-trail from Alliance partner Nissan, the car will compete against the Honda CR-V and forthcoming Vauxhall Antara.

Also shown in lightly-disguised concept form was the new Twingo, which will be available in right-hand drive in September next year.

The sharp looks, advanced multi-media and 100bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre engine illustrate the firm’s new philosophy with the Twingo to offer a sporty, hi-tech city car in a segment usually dominated by budget-priced offerings.

Both cars are part of Renault Commitment 2009, a plan by CEO Carlos Goshn to introduce 26 new models and sell 800,000 more cars worldwide, reduce average CO2 emissions from its cars, and improve profitability and quality – a key requirement for next year’s new Laguna which will be launched at Geneva in March.

Nissan: British show star

ALTHOUGH it wears a Japanese name, Nissan is keen to stress the Britishness of its new Qashqai.

Conceived, design and built in the UK, the Qashqai goes on sale early next year with prices ranging from under £14,500 to £20,000.

Nissan expects to sell around 17,000 models in the UK next year, with 20,000 annually the lifecycle goal. Of these, fleet sales will account for 45%.

As a replacement for the unloved Almera, the Qashqai brings SUV styling and a generously-sized interior to the lower-medium segment.

The aim, according to Nissan GB’s managing director Gary Frigo, is ‘to make the Volkswagen Golf look like yesterday’s news’.

He added: ‘The ‘me-too’ approach where we followed other volume manufacturers didn’t work for us so we are looking between segments.

‘This is a very big challenge for us and user-chooser drivers are the holy grail.’

Frigo believes that the work done on residual values with models such as the X-trail, Pathfinder and 350Z range will work in the Qashqai’s favour. He added: ‘We’re confident wholelife costs will be very good.’

Nissan also revealed preliminary details of the launch of its Infiniti luxury arm into the UK.

Already a huge success in the US, Infiniti will come to the UK later in 2008, although the exact range hasn’t been decided yet.

Frigo said: ‘This is a huge challenge as selling luxury cars in the UK requires a different strategy.’

Vauxhall: beats Ford in race for SUV

VAUXHALL stole a march on its key rival Ford by showing the production version of its new SUV challenger.

With Ford’s IosisX concept still two years away, Vauxhall showed the Antara (pcitured) which reaches UK showrooms next spring. Power will come from either a 2.4-litre 140bhp petrol engine or a 150bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel.

Both feature four-wheel drive and chunky styling as Vauxhall re-enters a market it last appeared in with the Frontera in 2003.

It will also be available with the Flex-Fix bike carrier which is an option on the new Corsa.

Also on display was the new Corsavan, shown at Paris in concept form.

On sale next year, Corsavan borrows the chunky styling from the new Corsa supermini.

Hyundai: assault begins on company car market

HYUNDAI’S new lower-medium car will look very similar to its Arnejs concept and will signal a concerted attempt to break into the UK company car market.

Buoyed by the success of the new Santa Fe SUV, Hyundai is confident the new model will attract company car drivers when it goes on sale next summer. The production version will be launched at the Geneva Motor Show next March.

Hyundai says the Santa Fe is taking the brand into markets it has previously been unable to reach, against carmakers it has not been able to compete with. It hopes the Arnejs will replicate this success.

Chrysler: new car onslaught

THE Chrysler Group will launch seven new cars during 2007 as it aims to build sales in the company car arena.

Leading the charge will be the Dodge Avenger (pictured) and Chrysler Sebring, both four-door saloons available in right-hand drive and with diesel power.

They will be joined by four new Jeep products – two and four-door Cherokees, the Compass and Patriot, as well as the Dodge Nitro.

As well as new product, Chrysler has also taken steps to make its cars more appealing to company car drivers and leasing firms.

From January 2007 onwards, all models will see their service, maintenance and repair costs cut by 25%.

Chrysler Group managing director Peter Lambert said: ‘There’s no doubt that cost of ownership is an increasingly important consideration for fleet buyers. As we look to increase our market share it is important we look at wholelife costs.’

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