New Delhi: Japanese auto maker Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd wants to introduce three iconic models to the Indian market. But first it needs to reduce the cost of doing that.
The move will help it polish a brand that has suffered because of its inefficient after-sales service, Guillaume Sicard, president of the Japanese company’s Indian unit, said in an interview.
“If you look at the Patrol, the X-trail, the GTR. We have plenty of products. The plan is if we do CBU, the cost is so much that the potential of sales is extremely limited. So, we have to look at ways to semi-industrialize those products. That’ll still be way above the average in terms of costs but could bring shine to the brand. That’s going to be the strategy actually,” Sicard said.
Sicard knows these products alone may not help Nissan gain traction in the Indian market. Its sales have declined 21.52% to 16,947 units during April-August period even though the Indian passenger vehicle industry grew 6.74% to 1.09 million units during this period.
“You know reputation is based on experience,” Sicard said.
“We need to keep on improving (on sales and service fronts). The processes that are being put in place in India, which are similar in Japan, the US. We copy paste that slightly. I am very hopeful that we will reach at the right level of satisfaction,” he said.
Sicard claims the company has improved on customer service, one of its biggest probems in India. Sicard cited the most recent JD power survey, which was issued in August and which ranks Nissan number three in the buying experience and number six in after-sales satisfaction.
“So, we are on the right direction,” he added.
In the last week of August, a high-profile team from Renault-Nissan’s global offices in Paris and Yokohama in Japan visited the alliance’s global technological centre in Chennai to review their operations in India and plan for the future.
That meeting gives Sicard confidence that Nissan can still make a mark in an already crowded market where as many as 17 companies sell their passenger vehicles.
“So, we got a clear vision. We are developing the future of Nissan, according to our current understanding of the market,” he said.
The problems at Nissan date back to the company’s entry into India when it signed on Hoover Automotive Pvt Ltd to be its exclusive sales partner, an ill-conceived strategy seeing that the latter had no experience selling cars nationally. That relationship was finally axed in April 2014. Its biggest bet on the affordable brand Datsun, which the company revived globally after more than 30 years, failed miserably in India. A controversial safety rating by UK-based vehicle-testing agency Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) further damaged the brand’s already withered reputation.
Sales of the Datsun Go, the entry-level offering, have halved to 3767 units during April-August this year from 7485 units from a year ago period. The multi-utility vehicle Datsun Go+, which was launched earlier this year in January, has sold 4,902 units till August, or roughly 600 a month.
Sicard maintained that Datsun, in no way, is a threat to life. The other challenge for Nissan is that it has so far failed to offer a product in India that has a core following, unlike, for instance, Maruti Swift, Dzire and Wagon R, Hyundai’s i10 and i20 which have fairly strong followings.
“Terrano was success to an extent,” said Abdul Majeed, partner and autopractice leader at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. “To be fair to the company, none of the other global OEMs have had much success either.”