Renault calls itself the number one light commercial vehicle brand in Europe, and pickups will play an important new role in its effort to become a global power. In June, the automaker introduced its first pickup truck, a South American-market production model developed from the Duster Oroch concept. Renault flipped the script on the old formula of pickup truck-based SUV by basing the pickup on the Renault/Dacia Duster SUV platform.
The new global model, a larger 1-tonne pickup previewed by the Alaskan concept, will extend Renault's pickup presence out of South America, helping it grab a piece of a worldwide pickup segment it identifies as 1/3 of the light commercial vehicle market.
The forthcoming production truck won't look exactly like the Alaskan concept, which has that raw concept car glow to it – as Renault calls it, "a head turner". Like what happened when the 2014 Duster Oroch concept moved to production, next year's Alaskan-based production truck is sure to change into a more conservative set of clothes, likely losing its conceptual front-end design, centrally mounted exhaust, and blue and yellow highlights.
What Renualt says will carry over to production is the concept's dimensions. Much like the Duster Oroch – both the concept and production truck – the Alaskan has a curvy, swept back shape, an alternative to the square, boxy pickup standard of other markets. It also brings a new set of strongly defined wheel arches to the styling table.
“The styling of the Alaskan Concept sticks to the rules of the pickup segment, including impressive dimensions and a visual sense of power and robustness," explains Laurens van den Acker, senior vice president of corporate design. "At the same time, we have dialed in specific Renault cues in the form of an attractive, status-enhancing front-end design."
Renault highlights versatility on its concept pickup design, showing how the truck is optimized for leisure, business and everyday commuting. It worked with Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad to create a truck around a hypothetical freelance photographer named Paul and his time spent working, playing and cruising with friends.
Paul takes advantage of the Alaskan's bed and tie-down tracks and side cargo boxes when on photography gigs and when adventuring with his mountain bike, camping gear or skis. When relaxing around town with his friends, Paul is happy to have a five-passenger cab and a stylish pickup that feels as comfortable at the valet parking stop as it does in a foot of mud. Or something like that.
We're not so sure Renault needed the whole Paul the Photographer yarn to illustrate the straightforward concept of a work/play/commuting truck, but there is at least one concrete fruit from the Renault-Hasselblad partnership. Mounted within its side mirror housing, the Alaskan carries a camera meant to capture continuous footage of the passing landscape. This feature is similar to the action cams that were integrated into the 2014 Duster Oroch concept. We'll assume Paul is going to take a few road trips down scenic, empty roads and not just spend his time stuck in highway traffic.
Oddly, Renault's rather detailed press kit about the Alaskan and its LCV strategy in general doesn't address the concept's most striking feature: that box atop its roof. At first we thought it was a cargo box, but a closer look shows that it's more of an electrical component with top-mounted solar panel, antenna (Wi-Fi?) and integrated LED lighting up front. Perhaps Renault will explain it at the truck's Frankfurt Motor Show debut – we don't expect the automaker to ignore it twice, but It's obviously just show car jewelry, so who knows.
The Alaskan concept's 21-in wheels are powered by a twin-turbo four-cylinder engine, with a small turbo aiding low-rev acceleration and a larger one for higher engine speeds. Renault promises best in class fuel economy.
Renault will develop the production 1-tonne pickup and reveal it in the first half of next year. Nissan will donate some parts from its new NP300 Navara, with which the Alaskan shares a very similar look. Expect the new Renault to have the concept's multi-use focus and come in a variety of body and powertrain options.
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