‘Nissan Motor’s biggest challenge in India is brand awareness’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on May 26, 2015

Nissan today exported 500,000th Made-in-India car

Company exports 500,000th Made-in-India car

Nissan Motor’s biggest challenge in India is effective communication – increasing awareness of the Datsun and Nissan brand qualities, according to Guillame Sicard, President, Nissan Motor India.

When the Datsun small car was launched in India over a year back, the brand awareness was close to zero, about 0.2 per cent, and latest studies indicate it is at 10 per cent. The company hopes to double awareness levels in the next six months. Compare that with awareness of Maruti Suzuki which is 99 per cent and you have the reason for the slow pick up in Datsun sales, he said.

Nissan Micra is also impacted by inadequate communication of its qualities. The small car has some great premium features in terms of safety and performance but it is simply not at the top of customers’ mind. “We have been a little shy with our advertising” and need to step things up, Sicard said in an interaction with journalists at an event organised at the Kamaraja Port to mark the export of 500,000th car by Nissan India.

Nissan exports about 65 per cent of the passenger cars it produces at its plant near Chennai. In 2014 it exported about 1.20 lakh cars against domestic sales of about 47,500 cars including the Datsun.

With a production capacity of about 4.8 lakh cars a year at the facility set up by the Renault-Nissan global alliance it is one of Nissan’s three largest plants globally. The capacity utilisation is about 65 per cent now and there is room for expanding capacities before new investments are considered, he said.

Exports will underpin the company’s growth in the immediate future but the domestic market has huge potential, he said.

Nissan had recognised India’s cost competitiveness when the alliance partners decided to invest in such a large facility here. It is also Nissan’s second largest source for its 34 manufacturing plants globally.

Earlier, addressing the function flagging off the 500,000th car, a red Micra, he said the Micra has become the most exported car out of India. But the domestic market is also fast growing with its domestic sales up 24 per cent in 2014 between Nissan and Datsun brands. With more launches in the pipeline Nissan is optimistic.

To sustain this competitiveness India has to monitor its costs of raw material, labour, power and address gaps in infrastructure. Tax structures have to be simplified and stable to consolidate its position as a global manufacturing hub.

Published on May 26, 2015

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