GO is safe, says Nissan India chief

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

Guillaume Sicard

Safety is in a constant stage of evolution: Guillaume Sicard

These have not been the best of times for Nissan in India. While its Datsun GO has not exactly set sales charts afire, the Global New Car Assessment Programme recently asked the company to withdraw this ‘substandard’ compact from the Indian market after it failed crash tests.

Guillaume Sicard, President of Nissan’s Indian operations, is unfazed by this controversy. “Safety is a subject all of us constantly talk about within Nissan, I am still confident of my strategy for Datsun,” he told Business Line over the phone on Monday.

Sicard also refuses to be drawn into any tit-for-tat battle with Global NCAP whose verdict on the GO put Nissan’s dealers under a fair deal of pressure with anxious customers. While maintaining that he “respects” NCAP, Sicard is equally quick to add that its findings as an evaluation company were confined to just one specific aspect of safety (crash tests).

Safety, according to him, cannot be discussed in a “narrow angle” as it also encompasses driving conditions, skills and visibility. “We are proud of the GO on active safety and it is right on top when it comes to braking distance, road holding, advanced suspension, long-range headlamps and seats that reduce fatigue,” Sicard says.

It is these elements of the GO that perhaps need to be conveyed more aggressively to Datsun customers. “I am very passionate about the car and believe it is a lot better than many other competing models,” he adds.

As the second largest Japanese carmaker in India, Sicard maintains Nissan know its business quite well. “Safety is in a constant stage of evolution and a never-ending exercise. Other requirements in active safety include road conditions, seatbelts, helmets etc. We are here to develop the Indian four-wheeler market and play a role in reducing accidents,” he says.

Carmakers in India face the added challenge of developing cost-effective products in an arena where affordability is the key. This is where striking the balance between providing safety devices (which add to the cost) and building volumes in an intensely competitive market becomes rather difficult.

This was especially true in the case of the Datsun where the company pulled out all stops in “absorbing knowledge” from emerging markets extensively while making the product a reality. Apart from India, it has been earmarked for Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.

While conceding that the NCAP report on GO caused “some confusion” in dealerships, Sicard says the more important job on hand to draw up a long-term strategy for Datsun. “This is only the beginning of a bigger story,” he adds.


Published on November 17, 2014

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