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Renault plots revival with launch of sporty SUV in Russia

Paris

RENAULT SA is betting on a sustained recovery in Russia's car demand, unveiling a sleek coupe-style sport utility vehicle in Moscow that will be manufactured in the French carmaker's second-biggest market.

The Arkana coupe-crossover, due to first go on sale in Russia next year, will expand the manufacturer's offering of popular SUVs such as the Kadjar or Koleos, targeting a wealthier set of buyers.

Renault needs to grow sales outside of slowing European markets to achieve a target of boosting deliveries by 40 per cent to five million vehicles annually by 2022.

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Nicolas Maure, Renault's Eurasia regional head, said: "Arkana will meet Russian customers' aspirations but also the ones of new customers in many countries worldwide. It will help Renault group to further pursue its international growth."

Car demand in Russia returned to growth last year, after four years of declines, reaching 1.6 million units.

Once predicted to surpass Germany's roughly four million in annual registrations, sales collapsed during the rouble crisis and have struggled to gain traction amid economic sanctions.

Renault and its Russian unit OAO AvtoVAZ, which makes the Lada, are the nation's top-selling auto-maker. Pole position in a rising market would help the French car-maker offset an also-ran ranking in China, the world's biggest buyer of passenger vehicles.

The mass-market manufacturer, which also owns the low-cost Romania-made Dacia brand and is a long-time partner of Japan's Nissan Motor Co, sees Russia becoming its biggest market by 2022.

Renault is facing tough competition at home after French rival PSA Group, maker of the Citroen and Peugeot nameplates, bought General Motors Co's Opel brand, with a plan to reap economies of scale and lower the cost on new technologies for electric and self-driving cars.

Renault, which said its Russian design team significantly contributed to the look of the Arkana, already builds the Kaptur and Duster SUVs at a plant in Moscow. BLOOMBERG