PARIS -- Renault's new Kadjar crossover will play a key role in the brand's global growth and profitability plans, CEO Carlos Ghosn said.
The compact model is forecast to become the third best-seller in its segment in Europe in its first full year of sales.
Ghosn said the Kadjar is a "huge opportunity" for Renault because it will compete in the booming crossover segment, which accounts for 25 percent of global car sales and 30 percent of sales in China.
The Kadjar will use the same underpinnings as the Nissan Qashqai, Europe's top-selling compact crossover, giving Renault economies of scale to help make the car profitable, Ghosn said.
The Kadjar is slightly longer and wider than the Qashqai, Renault sales and marketing chief Jerome Stoll said. The crossover will go on sale in Europe in June, three months after its debut at the Geneva auto show.
European versions will be built at Renault's plant in Palencia, Spain, where the Megane compact model line is produced. China versions will be built at the automaker's new factory in Wuhan starting in 2016, Ghosn said.
The CEO said he expects the Kadjar to become a top-seller in its segment because of its "fluid, seductive" design, advanced technology and high-quality materials, just as the two-year-old Renault Captur has been a success in the subcompact segment.
Ghosn said the Kadjar is "positioned very clearly as a crossover," with large wheels and high ground clearance.
Demand for crossovers, which combine spacious, offroad styling with conventional car architecture, has risen over the past decade.
Renault's only compact crossover, the larger Koleos, which is built in South Korea, has sold in limited volumes.
IHS predicts that sales of compact crossovers will top 2 million in Europe in 2020, up from 1.5 million last year. Crossovers earn fatter profits because their prices are typically 10 percent to 20 percent higher than the sedans they are based on.
"It's the vehicle category that's really doing well," said Francois Roudier, spokesman for France's CCFA auto industry association. "This is the model that Renault was missing."