UPDATE: Renault SA responded to our email requests. We've added their comments at the bottom of the article.
• Koleos axed from Renault UK line-up.
• Little more than 1 000 units sold in UK last year.
• Koleos failing to sell in strong numbers in South Africa.
In a market flooded with SUVs, it's easy for one of these vehicles to disappear into the abyss. While some find stellar success, others prod along trying to meet the targets set by its automakers.
One such SUV that has all the ingredients to be a success but is just scraping along, is Renault's Koleos. On price, there are few SUVs in its segment that can compete with what it offers, and it provides a decent ride quality that makes quick work of any long trip.
But news broke that Renault will be axing the Koleos from its line-up in the UK. According to Autocar, a spokesman for the automaker said the decision came "due to commercial reasons that align with Renault UK's policy of offering the most suitable vehicles in the UK market for our customers".
Could this have any bearing on the South African market?
2020 Renault Koleos. (QuickPic)
Why the axing?
The reason for the Koleos' axing can be two-fold. While we can't pinpoint the exact reasons, recent developments around the globe could have played a role in the outcome. Renault is one of the automakers who's been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. So much so that the automaker is looking at a major restructuring plan to ensure its future and survival.
As part of this plan, Renault announced earlier this year that more than 15 000 of its global staff would lose their jobs. Over three years, 4 600 staff in France, Renault's home country, and more than 10 000 worldwide will be laid off. This is a bid by Renault to cut fixed costs by 20% by 2024.
Secondly, the Koleos is not one of Renault's strongest sellers in the UK. In 2019, a mere 1 007 units were shifted, and across Europe a total of 12 371 units - down from 18 999 units in 2018. In the grander scheme of things, a slow-selling vehicle does any manufacturer no favours. If Renault UK can cut the Koleos off and attempt to save both jobs and the brand's continuation in the country, it could turn out to be one of the most critical steps the automaker could have taken.
2020 Renault Koleos. (Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond)
Koleos in SA
Those with their finger on the pulse will recall that the Koleos was on sale in South Africa before. It was discontinued shortly after the turn of the millennium's first decade and replaced by the Kadjar.
In 2019, the Koleos made its return and impressed on several levels.
But in terms of sales, the SUV rarely sold more than 30 units a month, which, if we had to spread it over a year, would amount to 360 units over 12 months. On Renault's part, if these sales figures are deemed successful and the business plan is working, then good for them.
Further evidence against the Koleos is its direct rivals. The Nissan X-Trail, the SUV the Koleos is based on, and the Toyota Rav4 far outsell the Koleos, and the vehicle is almost hidden in the market. If the Koleos continues to lag in terms of sales, it could find itself being discontinued by Renault SA for the second time.
On whether the Koleos could follow the same fate locally as in the UK, Renault South Africa said: "Pre-Covid, Koleos has been selling consistently at the expected levels and unfortunately has been impacted by the drop in the overall new car sales market; in SA and globally. It also plays in one of the segments together with the other upper segments that expectedly has felt the impact of the current crisis; as consumers become more hesitant to commit to 'big purchases'.
"We have just very recently introduced the new Koleos MY20 range that comes with a few design and functional updates; so Koleos will stay around for a while, representing as flagship of the Renault's SUV range."
2020 Renault Koleos. (Wheels24, Charlen Raymond)