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Why European designers want to make dual-cab utes

Renault has flip-flopped on the idea of selling either of its pick-ups in Australia, but this designer would love to draw one.

Pick-ups, or utes as we call them in Australia, are our continent’s most competitive segment an automaker can play in – but they present unique design challenges that are sought after by Europe’s car designers.

This is according to Renault’s Francois Lebione, who elaborated greatly on the very idea of designing a pick-up truck when CarsGuide simply asked if he would like to design one.

“For Renault, pick-ups are a limited field,” he said. “We have Alaskan, which is [Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi] alliance, and another [the Renault Oroch] which is based on the Dacia Duster.

A new generation Renault Oroch could stand a chance for an Australian launch. A new generation Renault Oroch could stand a chance for an Australian launch.

“But as a designer, I would absolutely love to draw a pick-up, especially a big one, it’s an old dream of European designers. We don’t see them on the streets, designers love to work on something they are not usually exposed to.”

Renault has toyed with the idea of launching the Nissan Navara-based Alaskan to our market for some time, and has even done some sums in the past to see if it was worth importing the Dacia Duster-based Oroch.

It seems neither has made it as far as a confirmation, with the most recent news from the brand’s local product manager Charly Clercin suggesting that that European-spec Alaskan truck simply isn’t right for for the Australian market.

“We looked into it and we couldn’t get the car we wanted out of the factory. Local development costs would have added too much to the price,” he told CarsGuide in November 2019.

While details are light on the ground, the Oroch could stand a better chance for an Australian launch, as its Duster sibling is already offered in right-hand-drive configuration for South Africa.

Renault has stated to Australian media before that the Oroch could be a viable option in a sub-$35,000 bracket, with a near-700kg payload having once been offered by the Australian-made Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore utes.

The current Oroch, which dates back to 2015, is front-wheel drive and offered with either a 1.6- or 2.0-litre engine. A new generation is due imminently, and it could be then that we learn more about any Australian launch plans.

On the topic of pick-up designs, Mr Lebione had good things to say about Tesla’s Cybertruck, however.

Turns out Mr Lebione is a Cybertruck fan. Turns out Mr Lebione is a Cybertruck fan.

“As a design exercise, it’s perfect,” he said. “There’s no better way to be recognised as a designer than to design something simple. It’s iconic, there is a brutality to it.

“Could I do something like this? I don’t know… but as a design exercise I love it.”