It's India first for Renault's global small car launch

India will be the first market for French automobile maker Renault to launch its global small car (price below Rs.4 lakh) this year, said a top official of the group's Indian subsidiary.

"India will potentially be the first market in the world where our global small car would be launched," Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and managing director, Renault India told reporters here late Tuesday.

He said the small car will be priced well below the Rs 400,000 (not the Bata footwear like price of Rs.3.99 lakh) and would also be sub-four metres to enjoy the lower excise rate.

Renault India will also be launching seven seater Lodgy, a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), soon as a part of its strategy to gain five percent market share in India.

Sawhney ruled out hiring a celebrity as the brand ambassador for Renault models at this point of time.

He said the focus is on expanding the sales and service network to 205 units from the current 157 outlets.

Queried about the cars made by Asian companies - Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Toyota, Honda - ruling the Indian roads while the European and American parentage brands being insignificant players, he said Renault India will prove that theory wrong.

According to him for a product to succeed, right price, right product and right timing are important.

"The right price of the car is determined by the level of localisation. Our models will have high levels of local content which would address the pricing issue," Sawhney said.

According to him, Renault customises its products for Indian conditions and cited the 37 changes it made in Duster before launching the car in India.

He said Renault India is not looking at launching cars with automatic transmission as the fuel consumption is around 15 percent more in such models.

On the other hand, the company is evaluating the possibilities of launching cars with automated transmission (clutch less manual gear change) technology.

Ruling any more cross badging of models between Renault and Nissan, he said the French company has lined up more models for the Indian market in the coming years.

With the launch of two new models, Renault India hopes to more than double its sales numbers this year as compared to around 49,000 units sold in 2014.

He said around 80 percent of last year's sales were accounted by Duster model.

"In 2015 the percentage share of Duster would come down to around 35 percent following the launch of two new models," Sawhney said.

On Renault's plans for used car business in India, he said it would be launched during the second quarter of 2015 as a team is working on it.

Renault India models are rolled out of around Rs.5,000-crore Renault Nissan Automotive India Pvt. Ltd.'s plant near here.

The plant, a joint venture between Renault and Nissan Motor Company, rolls out Renault and Nissan branded cars has a total capacity of 480,000 units per year.

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