SEOUL — Renault thinks its Koleos medium SUV will reach Russia at just the right time.
Renault spokeswoman Raphaelle Gomez said the automaker expects strong sales in Russia for the Koleos because foreign brands are popular in Russia and because demand for SUVs is “growing significantly.”
The Samsung-made Koleos, the French carmaker’s first SUV, goes on sale in Europe this summer. Russia gets it by year-end.
The Koleos is part of Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn’s Renault Commitment 2009 plan to sell 3.33 million units by 2009, up from 2.49 million in 2007.
Renault’s Samsung subsidiary has set a 100,000-unit target for the Koleos (known as the QM5 in Korea) this year, with about 60 percent of production going abroad.
Renault Samsung builds the SUV at its plant in Busan.
The Korean unit sold about 5,000 QM5s in Korean in December following the SUV’s launch on December 10, beating an initial target of 3,000 for the first month.
The QM5 sells in Korea for between 21,600,000 won and 31,800,000 won (€15,570 to €22,900). The Koleos will be similarly priced in Europe, Gomez said.
Renault Samsung spokesman Jo Joo Hong said the Koleos will be sold in Europe with the QM5’s 150hp, 2.0-liter diesel and 170hp, 2.5-liter gasoline engines with four-wheel- and two-wheel-drive transmissions.
The SUV will make its European debut at the Geneva auto show in March.
The Koleos/QM5 is the first SUV made by Renault Samsung. Previously it made only sedans. The subsidiary exports the SM3 small sedan mainly to Russia, where it is sold as a Nissan.
Gomez said Renault Samsung will play a larger role in the Renault-Nissan alliance and will export Renault Samsung sedans from Korea beginning in 2009 to make better use of the Busan factory. The plant currently operates at a little over half its 300,000-unit-a-year capacity.