Although truck sales in the second half of 2019 will be significantly lower than the first half, Renault Trucks expects this year to finish on 47,000 units, 9% ahead of 2018. 

Speaking to journalists last week, commercial director James Charnock said Brexit had “distorted” the UK market, with two large pre-buys in the first half of 2019, but November sales were still 14% up year on year.

Renault expects the market in 2020 to be smaller though Charnock said next year would also “be influenced by politics” as the next UK government continues to wrestle with Brexit.

A new management team led by MD Carlos Rodrigues has been in place at Renault for just over a year and he said it had been a good 12 months. Renault is outperforming the market, with sales up 18% year on year last month and it will finish the year with a “slight increase” in market share.

“Of the seven major truck brands, three have increased share this year and we are one of those three,” said Charnock. “There is increasing confidence in our products and excellent back up from our dealers.”

Renault has had success targeting specific market sectors including municipal this year and has grown its customer base. “Our growth is a result of us talking to more customers,” said Charnock. “We have made several conquests this year and when we get a new customer we are very good at keeping them. We still have to tackle the [legacy] Renault brand image though.”

While the Range T tractor unit has been well received in the market, inconsistent dealer support across the UK has long been Renault’s Achilles’ heel and Renault is addressing the problem by ranking all dealerships on a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) to highlight the weak performers.

“This has been a real success for customers because we now have a consistent level of service across the business,” said aftersales director Derek Leech. “It has surpassed our expectations and we have seen a 300% increase [in performance] in some dealers.”

Used truck sales also had a good year with 1,200 units returning from the first owner being sold either direct, through the dealers or for export. One in three of used sales were to customers who had never bought Renault before and Leech said most were upgrading rather than expanding their fleets to enable them to operate within clean air zones. Renault offers an official kit to lower the emissions standard of used vehicles and so make them suitable for export to countries with poor fuel quality.

Looking ahead, Renault sees a big future for its full electric range which now includes the Master ZE van and Range D trucks up to 26 tonnes. It predicts that by 2025 10% of Renault’s overall sales will be full electric but expects the UK to outperform this percentage. Its electric range is opening doors to new customers wanting to go electric including parcels giant DPD and it is talking to urban operators about “root and branch” changes to distribution models to fully exploit electric vehicles.

But like most other OEMs, the company believes there is plenty of mileage left in improving the fuel efficiency of diesel engines. A Step D T480 demo has delivered a 10% fuel saving over the previous version for one customer and the company said diesel will remain its “core product for the next 20 or 30 years”.