Renault's Korean subsidiary Samsung will export 50,000 to 60,000 units a year of the medium SUV it is developing, according to Automotive News Europe.

The SUV, code-named H45, will be exported primarily under the Renault brand, Renault Samsung Motors CEO Jerome Stoll said. The vehicle will be sold under the Samsung brand in Korea and other Asian markets.

The H45 is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2007 - about the same time Renault rival PSA/Peugeot-Citroen plans to launch a small SUV that it is developing with Mitsubishi.

Renault Samsung's SUV will be based on the Nissan X-Trail platform, but it will not be as square as the X-Trail. A source who has seen the new SUV says it has styling that is rounded, making it look like the Nissan Murano.

The next-generation Nissan X-Trail is expected to share its powertrain with the H45.

"I expect it will be a huge success," Stoll said, "not only for Renault Samsung Motors but also for Renault because it will be the first SUV car in their lineup."

There are no plans to export the car to the US or China, Stoll said.

By 2009, Renault will add a larger, luxury SUV to its lineup. The vehicle is likely to be built in France. The French carmaker showed how the larger SUV could look with the Egeus concept vehicle that debuted at the IAA in Frankfurt last week.

The Egeus concept is believed to foreshadow a larger SUV from Renault, with a launched targeted for 2009. It is expected to be a more direct competitor to vehicles such as the Volkswagen Touareg. Renault will tap into alliance partner Nissan's expertise for four-wheel-drive powertrains.

Stoll said the medium SUV will not resemble the Egeus concept, although his design studio is linked with Renault's European studio.

"It will be different, definitely," Stoll said. "But you will recognise that it is the same family and spirit and the same design philosophy."

Currently, Japanese automakers capture more than 50% of SUV sales in Europe. Toyota is the top seller of SUVs in the region. It unveiled its third generation of the class-leading RAV4 at the IAA. The new design goes on sale early next year.

There are also plans by other automakers, including General Motors and Volkswagen, to have their own entries in the segment by then.

GM is also relying on its Korean affiliate for SUVs. GM Daewoo Auto and Technology will produce the new Opel Frontera, which was shown in concept form at the IAA in Frankfurt, and the Chevrolet S3X. VW is developing a Golf-based SUV.

Currently, the closest thing Renault has to offer customers interested in a small SUV is the Kangoo four-wheel-drive car-derived van.

Renault Samsung's medium SUV will lead an export drive. By 2010, the Korean carmaker wants to build 350,000 vehicles annually and export half of them.

Its total sales target for 2005 is 105,000 units, up 23% from 2004. The automaker expects to export 3,500 vehicles this year.

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