PARIS, June 18 (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault unveiled a no-frills pickup truck on Thursday, betting on resilient Latin American demand and hoping to build on the success of its Duster sport utility vehicle.
The Oroch, presented in Buenos Aires and assembled from the same architecture as the hot-selling Duster, is Renault’s first “double-cabin” pickup with a row of seating behind the driver and front passenger.
The vehicle, whose main regional rivals will be the Volkswagen’s Saveiro and Fiat’s Strada, will go on sale in the region later this year. Renault has not yet indicated whether the Oroch will be produced and sold in other markets and has not set any prices for the model.
“Latin America is an important market for Renault and today pickups are important in Latin America, so we had to enter the segment,” Renault commercial vehicles chief Ashwani Gupta said in an interview.
South American pickup sales reached almost 681,000 vehicles in 2013, according to IHS Automotive, before a broader slowdown still being felt in emerging markets. It sees sales recovering to approach their earlier peak by the end of the decade from 557,000 next year.
North America remains the world’s biggest pickup market, approaching 3 million annual sales, while Europe is one of the smallest at 141,000. European carmakers have been slow to exploit the vehicles’ sales potential overseas.
Renault is rolling out its first pickup in the larger mid-size category next year, based on Japanese affiliate Nissan’s Navara model, whose underpinnings will also be shared with a Mercedes-Benz truck. (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by David Holmes)