Mumbai: France’s Renault SA said the ultra low-cost car (ULC) it plans to build in a joint venture with India’s Bajaj Auto Ltd and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. would be an answer to spiralling fuel prices.
“The ULC is the right product to respond to the fuel prices... This is the design direction that we are taking for the vehicle,” Renault’s senior vice-president of corporate design Patrick G.M. le Quement said on Wednesday. “While it has to be a robust model, it cannot afford to be overweight, as the fuel efficiency would be compromised in the process.”
Quement said the auto industry would be forced to apply the design approach of ULC to other projects. “The ULC is on the right path, it’s the others which will have to be adjusted.” The joint venture, announced earlier this year, plans to launch the low-cost car by 2011.
Renault, France’s No. 2 car maker, currently sells the Mahindra Logan, a mid-size saloon, in India in a joint venture with local company Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.
Renault, in another partnership with Nissan Motor, is also building a facility in Chennai to produce cars for the Indian market.
Quement was in Mumbai to inaugurate its design unit, Renault Design India. This is the fifth in Renault’s network of satellite design centres—after Barcelona, Paris, Bucharest and Kihueng in South Korea.
Besides designing Renault’s models with Nissan Motor in Chennai, the Mumbai centre would also assist in designing the ULC.
On the company’s confidence in the Indian supplier base for the ULC project, Quement said: “We are working very closely with Bajaj on that. When our president Carlos Ghosn visited some of the suppliers, he was clearly very impressed. In some cases, he found it to be more efficient than the Japanese.”
Quement said the Mahindra Logan has enhanced Renault’s knowledge of the Indian market and that it would come in handy for the ULC project.