Renault, Nissan get set to make grand entry with 11 new cars

Renault, Nissan get set to make grand entry with 11 new cars

Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co are stepping on the gas with their India plans. Between them, the two car makers, are planning to put at least 11 models on Indian roads in next few years. Nissan Motor, Japan’s third-largest car maker, is firming up an eight-model line up while its European partner Renault will come in with three more in three segments.

People close to the development told Mint that senior company officials of both the firms made an announcement to this effect in a closed-door meeting with potential business partners and vendors last week in Mumbai. Officials from Nissan and Renault’s India operations were not available for comment. However, a official of Nissan Motor, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the plans saying Nissan’s line-up would largely consist of compact cars.

The Japanese car major is in a hurry to kick-start its India plans and will introduce a number of models from its global portfolio through the completely built up import route beginning next year, according to these same people in the know. Nissan’s only presence in the Indian market currently is the X-trail, an SUV, that it imports from Japan. The model sold 190 units in India last year.

Nissan plans to make 1,50,000 cars in the first phase of its operations in India from a new plant in Chennai where it will be producing cars along with Renault and Mahindra & Mahindra. Its first car from the plant is scheduled to roll out in May 2009.

French car manufacturer Renault, meanwhile, has decided to offer Indian buyers products in the small car, multi-utility and crossover segments. Renault’s line-up will also include variants of the Logan, an economy-sedan that it is soon to manufacture at Nashik, in a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra, according to people familiar with the plans.

Work has already commenced on vendor development for Nissan’s new plant at Oragadam, in south Chennai, that will have the capacity to manufacture four lakh vehicles. The three car manufacturers will collectively invest an estimated Rs4,000 crore over the next seven years in the project in which M&M will hold 50% stake and Renault and Nissan will have 25% stake each. Renault and Nissan are the latest to join the list of global car markers who are targeting India as other key markets, including the US, slows down. In the recent past, General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat, BMV and DaimlerChrysler have announced investments in India to manufacture cars in every segment—from economy cars to high-end models.

Indians bought 1.14 million cars in the last financial year. As disposable income drives spending, the number is expected to cross the two-million mark by 2010. Among those in the race to get a slice of the business is the country’s largest car maker, Maruti Udyog, which is putting investments in place to manufacture one million cars by 2010. Hyundai Motors and Tata Motors, two other large players in the market, are also racing to put capacities in place ahead of the expected boom in the market.