Exclusivity in product strategy will be the mantra going forward for Renault and Nissan in India.
This will mark a departure from the present business model where the (Nissan) Micra and (Renault) Pulse as well as the Sunny and Scala are near clones of each other. However, the huge response to the Duster is a clear reminder to Renault that product differentiators hold the key to the future, as is the case with its premium Koleos SUV and the Nissan X-Trail, where the only thing common is their platform.
“Synergies at the back-end are absolutely critical and this is the crux of the Renault-Nissan alliance. The front-end, though, will now have to be completely exclusive,” top sources told Business Line. This is already happening at the retail level where the partners have their own networks to ensure separate brand identities.
Critics had a field day with the Pulse which was practically a replica of the Micra. Yet, it was important for Renault at that point to ramp up its model line-up, following the split with its erstwhile Indian ally, Mahindra & Mahindra, for the Logan project.
Apart from the Pulse, the Fluence and Koleos were part of the building blocks for Renault in its second innings. The Scala, likewise, had a role to play as dealers needed a “varied menu” by the end of the day.
The French automaker pulled out all stops for the Duster, knowing fully well that it was the make-or-break product to establish its DNA in the market.
And even while Nissan is believed to be working on its own version of the Duster, there will be no sense of a déjà vu as is the case with the Micra-Pulse or the Sunny-Scala. Likewise, the next big platform strategy for global compact cars will see completely different products from the partners.
Nissan’s range sporting the Datsun badge is likely to kick off from a price point of Rs 2.5 lakh, on the lines of Maruti’s recently launched Alto 800, going up to Rs 4.5 lakh.
On the other hand, the Renault small car will be part of the B plus segment characterised by models like the Swift, Figo, Etios and Polo. The prices here typically start from Rs 4 lakh plus, going up to Rs 6 lakh for diesel versions.
“They will be totally different cars and this will be the route for all future products from the alliance. The back-end synergies will ensure a competitive costing structure,” sources said. It is also increasingly clear that the earlier proposal for an ultra-low cost car, planned with Bajaj Auto (and inspired by the Tata Nano), has now been shelved.
Renault and Nissan share a sprawling facility near Chennai which also marks their coming together for the first time globally in manufacturing synergies. This model will now be replicated in the Morocco plant where the lessons from Chennai have come in handy.