Renault and Nissan have announced their plans to expand their product portfolio in India with four new SUVs in the near future as the French and Japanese companies look forward to driving growth in the country with a renewed approach.

This comes a year after the two companies’ announcement of an additional investment of ₹5,300 crore ($600 million) in the Indian market for developing and producing about half-a-dozen models both for India and overseas. The alliance has, so far, invested $1.8 billion in Indian operations, which commenced 15 years ago.

The top management of Renault Nissan Alliance, which has completed 25 years of partnership, were in Chennai to discuss their growth plans.

“India will continue to play a key role in our organisation in the future, as India is at the heart of the Alliance’s operations. After the reshaping of the alliance last year, we now apply a more flexible and local project-led approach, which allows for quick and agile decisions that suit regional requirements,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, Chairman of the Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Alliance at their car manufacturing factory near Chennai.

Growth plans

Discussing their future growth plans, the top management of the Alliance said it would launch four SUVs – two each under Renault and Nissan brands – in the C segment. The proposed SUVs will include two five-seater and two seven-seater SUVs. These will be developed out of the CMF (common module family)-B platform. However, launch periods were not disclosed.

The management asserted that Alliance would continue to focus on heavy localisation in its vehicles as it has been selling the existing models with more than 90 per cent localisation. “Chennai factory provides us a huge cost advantage,” said Luca De Meo, CEO, Renault Group.

Currently, Renault Nissan Automotive India Pvt Ltd (RNAIPL), the alliance factory at Oragadam near Chennai, manufactures five products for Renault and Nissan – Kwid, Kiger and Triber for Renault and Magnite for Nissan. The factory has a capacity to produce about 4.4 lakh units a year.

The combined market share of both Renault and Nissan is little less than 2 per cent in the four-million Indian passenger vehicle market.

Nissan Magnite and Renault’s Kiger/Triber vehicles were born in India — designed, developed, and manufactured in Chennai. These cars were developed on the CMF A/A+ platform, which was engineered by the Alliance’s Chennai teams.

“Soon, this family will be expanded with the addition of a new five-seater / seven-seater car for Nissan,” Makoto Uchida, President and CEO of Nissan Motor Company, Japan, said, adding, ”Our teams are working to introduce alternative energy options, such as CNG and compatibility with ethanol.”

For Nissan, the Chennai factory is also a major export hub and it aims to make the operations a stronger export centre, going forward. “As part of which, India will be a hub for exports at one lakh units level for Nissan during the mid term,” he added.

Strong ecosystem

Since Chennai operations have built a strong ecosystem, the Renault Nissan Alliance seeks to use the same for the development of new products for domestic and exports and enhancement of technologies.

“We are all very aware of the quality and skills of the people in this country. Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India has about 10,000 people working on the latest technologies like electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving, AI, cloud, augmented Reality, etc. They make our engineering centre the top automotive tech centre in the region and among the best in our companies, globally,” said Meo.