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Renault launches one-tonne pick-up truck

Renault has launched its first ever one-tonne pick-up truck, opting to keep the Renault Alaskan name used on the concept vehicle shown in September 2015.

Powered by a Renault 2.3-litre twin turbo engine used in the Renault Master, the Alaskan will get two power outputs of 160hp and 190hp and a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic. 

Produced on the same platform as the Nissan Navara, under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the technology and mechanicals of the Alaskan match its sibling in every way.

That means it gets a five-link, coil sprung rear suspension supporting the ladder-frame chassis, and a payload capacity of more than one tonne.

Available body types will include double cab and chassis cab variants as well as a single cab – something Nissan does not currently offer. There will also be short and long load bed options and wide or narrow bodies. Ground clearance is set at 230mm, and the Renault pick-up will have a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes to match the best in the industry. 

The Alaskan will use a four-wheel-drive system with high and low ratios, and have an electronic limited slip differential and a locking rear differential. Rear-wheel-drive will also be available for driving on paved roads, while technology on the new truck will include Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and the usual array of braking safety systems including Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist. 

Other bits of technology include keyless entry, a 7-inch touchscreen for navigation and the 360 degree around view camera – first shown on the Nissan Qashqai. 

Renault expects the Alaskan to sell as both a business and as a lifestyle vehicle, and as such will cater for the higher end of the market with options like heated front seats and automatic air conditioning. While at the business end of the truck there will be C-channels and four lashing points to secure loads as well as water repellent and anti-slip finishes.

Mechanically the Alaskan is identical to the Nissan Navara, but cosmetically Renault has been able to change the front end of the car, adding their own brand identity with a chrome grille and full LED daytime running lights, and flattening the rear tailgate section to create a different look to the Nissan and create space for the large Alaskan badging in the centre.

Speaking about designing the Alaskan, Laurens van den Acker, Renault corporate design senior vice president, says it was not a question of merging the look of the passenger car models in to a commercial vehicle.  

“In many markets the pick-up truck is the flagship model for a brand and needs to be bold and work as both a business and leisure vehicle,” he said.

Initially the Renault Alaskan will be launched as a double cab in the Latin American markets of Brasil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile and Peru, before being rolled out to Uruguay, Paraguay and Guatemala. Renault can’t yet say when the Alaskan will reach other markets, including Europe, but with production bases in Mexico and Barcelona they intend to sell the Alaskan in most global markets by the end of next year.

For now, their strategy is to focus on the strong demand in the markets of Latin America where 0.5- and 1-tonne pick-up trucks are booming. Last year Renault  launched the Renault Oroch pick-up truck, a half-tonne pick-up bases on the Dacia Duster. It was launched in Brasil at a time when sales were at an all time low, yet has proved successful across Latin America securing a 4.3% market share in less than a year.

Renault hopes the Alaskan will follow a similar path, and while Ashwani Gupta, global head of light commercial vehicles business, sees Toyota as its main product competitor, he believes the global reach of the Renault brand means Ford is also a key rival.

Success for the Alaskan will mean taking valuable market share away from these two competitors.

In the meantime, though Gupta says Columbia – the location for the global launch of the Renault Alaskan – will be a solid starting point for the new global one-tonne pick-up truck as Renault has both market share and a significant brand presence in the country with Kangoo and Trafic both number one in their sectors. 

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