Auto focus

India in Renault’s top 15 list, but challenges remain

Our Bureau | Updated on: May 10, 2018
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Carving out a niche in Maruti-dominated market is not easy

India is in the 13th place on Renault’s list of top 15 global markets for the January-March quarter of 2018. The French auto-maker had declared its results in Paris a fortnight ago.

The first five in this list are France, Russia, Italy, Germany and Spain. Brazil has jumped to the sixth position, which clearly means that its once beleaguered economy is now on the mend. Argentina follows next and then you have Iran, the UK, Turkey and China. Just ahead of India is Luxembourg in the 12th place while South Korea and Algeria take up the last two positions.

At one level, it could be argued that India features in a pretty important list, which is some cause for pride. Yet, for a country which is on its way to becoming the third-largest car producer in the world, Renault needs to step on the gas harder. China is a new market for the company and it has still surged ahead of India, which is not surprising considering that it produces nearly 10 times the number of cars every year. The figures released on Renault’s website show that it sold 21,907 vehicles in India during the first three months of this year, translating into market penetration of 2.7 per cent.

Tall order

Ideally, this should have been around five per cent but even that is a tall order in a market where Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai have a combined share of nearly 70 per cent. The balance is accounted for by Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Honda, Toyota, Renault, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.

In short, there are at least a dozen other brands vying for the balance 30-odd per cent share of the pie, which pretty much reflects how competitive the Indian market is. To that extent, there are no two ways about the fact that Renault has made a mark with its Kwid, though the challenge is to sustain the numbers. The Duster had made a considerable impact earlier but has had to reckon with tremendous competition in the SUV space.

There is no question that Maruti Suzuki has been relentlessly building on its market leadership base without showing any signs of complacency. With a share of over 50 per cent, almost all its offerings have hit the bull’s-eye and today it comfortably averages over 1.5 lakh units every month.

Tough competition

Renault, to its credit, proved to be a worthy challenger with the Kwid, but this was just one product tipped against a huge range from Maruti.

This is also true for Hyundai, which has successful offerings across a slew of segments be it the i10, i20, Verna and Creta.

It has also been around for over two decades with its debut product, Santro, paving the way for a solid drive. Next year will see its group company, Kia Motors, making its debut in the SUV space. Likewise, MG Motor from China’s SAIC will also launch its SUV in India, which means that competition will only increase.

Renault’s focus on frugal engineering resulted in a competitive price offering for the Kwid, which soon caught the imagination of the market.

It also helped grow the brand to smaller cities and towns, the key markets for the Kwid, unlike the Duster that is a more urban offering.

It will be interesting to see if India improves its standing on the Renault map and gets into the top 10 list.

This will not be cakewalk given that Turkey, which is in the 10th place, is ahead by over eight thousand units in this quarter. South Korea trails India by 2,500 units and it remains to be seen how the remainder of the year pans out for all countries in this list. Renault had stated in its press release that registrations in Europe for the quarter increased by 2.8 per cent in a market up 0.6 per cent thanks to the success of the new Duster and Koleos models.

Outside Europe, the Group recorded sales up 22.1 per cent in Eurasia and 21.3 per cent in the Americas. It is facing a slowdown in the Middle East and Africa (down 5.3 per cent) as well as Asia-Pacific (down 18.6 per cent) where India is an important component.

The forecast

According to Renault, the global market is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent in 2018 compared to the preceding year. The European market is expected to increase by one per cent with a corresponding increase for France.

Internationally, Russia should experience an increase of nearly 10 per cent. Brazil and China are expected to grow by more than five per cent and its Indian market by six per cent.

Published on May 10, 2018

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