Details of Renaults to be sold by Nissan in Australia, initially only through big-city dealers, will be announced at the Melbourne motor show next March.

Sales of the French cars, which will be marketed as a separate model line from the Nissan brand, will start in the first half of 2001.

It's the latest move to result from the global Renault-Nissan alliance forged in May 1999. Nissan has previously announced that it will launch Renault in Mexico using the well-established Japanese company's 'back office' facilities for dealer, finance, parts and service support and a similar arrangement is expected to be adopted in Australia.

Using Nissan facilities will quickly return the brand to Australia. Renaults were once assembled in the country and there have been at least two attempts in the 1980s and 1990s to re-establish the marque with fully-imported cars. Such attempts have not been successful for more than a few years and sales volumes have been disappointing.

Nissan dealers are expected to welcome the wider product range enabling them to compete in new market sectors. After a successful start in the larger cities, the dealer network is likely to evolve into nationwide coverage.