Renault will launch a four-wheel-drive version of its Kangoo Express light commercial vehicle early next year.
The French carmaker will also introduce new versions of the heavier Master van in an effort to boost commercial-vehicle sales to counter the sluggish passenger-car market.
Renault expects the four-wheel-drive Kangoo Express to sell 21,000 units a year in western Europe.
Through August, the Kangoo Express was the No. 1 light commercial vehicle in western Europe. It sold 91,318 units, up 19.8 percent from the same period last year, Renault said.
Last year, Renault sold 117,600 Kangoo Express units, ahead of 114,600 Ford Transits and 96,700 Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.
Renault's truck division sold 375,000 vehicles in 2000. It expects to sell 390,000 this year, which will account for about 20 percent of Renault's total revenue.
Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer's objective is to sell 700,000 commercial vehicles and 3.3 million passenger cars a year by 2010.
Commercial vehicles also help Renault's bottom line. They generate more profit per unit than passenger cars, with margins between 5 percent and 10 percent, Renault said.
Customers buy utility vehicles at prices similar to passenger cars - even though the equipment is much less sophisticated - because of the tax breaks available.
In addition, commercial vehicle life spans tend to be longer because users are less concerned about appearance.
Renault's fleet customers for Kangoo include many utilities and governmental agencies. Among the customers are 11 postal services. Customers also include Ooshop, the delivery unit of food retailer Carrefour, and Darty, a French household appliance retailer. Renault expects to sell 23,500 Kangoo Express units to fleet buyers in 2001.
The new four-wheel-drive Kangoo has an 1.9-liter, 80hp dCi turbodiesel engine and a Nissan hydraulic clutch - the first time Renault has used a component from its alliance partner in a light commercial vehicle.
Renault is also launching two new versions of the Master, its largest commercial vehicle, with 1.9-liter, 82hp and 2.5-liter, 115hp common-rail turbodiesel engines.
Beginning next year, Renault will provide two trucks to Nissan. In March, the Master will be available as the Nissan Interstar. By the end of the year, Nissan will sell its version of the Renault Trafic medium truck as the Primastar.
Renault has a similar rebadging deal with General Motors. GM sells the Master as the Opel Movano and the Trafic as the Opel Vivaro.