Wednesday 23 August 2017

Renault goes flat out for flagship truck market

Four years after its launch on the European market, the flagship Renault Trucks Range T High is finally to be sold in right-hand drive form in the UK.

Available from early 2018, the flat-floor Range T High will be offered in three trim levels: International, Driver, and Driver Lux.

International has a basic cab interior with fabric seats (the passenger seat rotates to turn the cab into a living area when parked), a standard bunk and steel wheels. Its 13-litre engine is available in 440 and 480 hp outputs only.

Next up is the Driver. This has full-leather seats with a rotating passenger seat, a ‘Performance’ lower bunk and ‘Ultimate’ upper bunk, a ‘Compact’ dash and a deep fridge inside the cab.

Outside it runs on Alcoa aluminium wheels, and has an aluminium suzie support and additional catwalk. An additional 520 hp engine rating is available on this model.

The top-of-the range Driver Luxe boasts a luxury interior specification including additional overhead lockers and better curtains, and has aluminium air tanks. It is available with the 480 and 520 hp engines only.

This launch returns Renault Trucks to being a contender in the UK flagship tractor class. The manufacturer’s long-running AE Magnum was the first truck of the modern era to offer a flat-floor cab, and while it sometimes struggled to find buyers as a new truck in the UK market, it was much in demand as a used tractor unit among owner-drivers.

The decision to launch the Range T High in the UK follows favourable experience with a small number of UK operators who purchased left-hand drive versions, and also reflects a new air of confidence in the UK truck market from Renault Trucks, which saw British registrations of its products increase by 4.5 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

Some in the industry believe that the Range T High was previously held back from the UK because of fears that it would cannibalise sales of Volvo’s FH XL flagship (Renault Trucks being part of Volvo Group).

But a rise of almost 16 per cent in Volvo Trucks’ own registrations this year presumably indicated that there was enough demand in the market to sustain sales of both brands’ flagships.

With operators now competing for drivers as well as customers, it is difficult for a full-range truck manufacturer to operate in the UK without an aspirational flagship offering.

Renault Trucks UK commercial director Nigel Butler said: “For UK and Irish customers, while the standard Range T continues to deliver the best available total cost of ownership, we have listened and we recognise that more operators are looking for a more spacious and luxurious sleeper cab.

“Since launch in 2013, the left-hand drive Range T High has been universally acclaimed in Europe and by operators and press alike here in the UK.

“Our flagship flat-floor right-hand drive models offer spacious, comfortable and well-appointed working and living areas that will appeal to both drivers and operators who specify vehicles that are a home-from home, and those who prioritise image.”

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