Nissan India banking on SUVs in revival bid
By Atul Ranjan
NEW DELHI, NNA- Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will launch a new model in India each year starting with its first compact sports utility vehicle soon this year in its bid to revive flagging sales.
Eyeing the country’s fastest growing utility vehicle market in its turnaround strategy, the carmaker’s local subsidiary Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd. (NMIPL) will introduce a new SUV in the first quarter of next fiscal year, which starts this April.
Nissan India said in its website teaser that the car will be stylish, technology rich as it's inspired by its global SUV heritage and advanced Japanese technology.
NMIPL, which offers Nissan and Datsun models in India, said on Monday that the latest move is intended to make Nissan “a primary” brand in the country, while continuing to leverage Datsun’s brand strength.
“We would be looking to make Nissan the primary brand in the Indian market,” Rakesh Srivastava, managing director of NMIPL, said during a press briefing on Monday.
“Multiple new products will keep on coming under the Nissan brand umbrella. While that happens, we’ll continue to upgrade the value proposition of the Datsun products,” he said.
The company, which currently sells its ‘Kicks’ and ‘Terrano’ SUVs in India, said the new compact SUV was designed in Japan after taking into account India’s requirements. It will be manufactured locally.
“This (compact SUV) will be basically a ‘Make in India’ product. We’ll also explore export opportunities for this model later,” Srivastava said.
Nissan together with its global alliance partner Renault SA has set up a manufacturing plant and a research and development center near Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They have jointly invested 61 billion rupees (around $860 million) so far for their growth strategy in India.
According to the latest data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), NMIPL’s domestic sales plunged 47 percent to 14,708 units during the first nine months (Apr-Dec.) of the current fiscal year. Its exports rose 40 percent to 60,739 units over the same period.
Sales of overall passenger vehicles, three-wheelers and two-wheelers dropped 16.4 percent, 2.7 percent and 15.8 percent respectively during the nine-month period compared to the same period of the previous year.
However, utility vehicle (UV) was the only sub-segment under the passenger vehicle, which witnessed positive growth of 6.4 percent with 725, 563 units sold during the nine months.
SIAM’s data also shows that UVs, which accounted for just 13 percent of the overall passenger vehicle sales volume about 10 years ago (FY2010-11) has now increased their share to 34 percent in the current fiscal year, becoming the fastest growing category among passenger cars.
“UV segment is growing globally, as well as in India,” Srivastava noted.