New Delhi: Nissan Motor Co. said on Thursday it aims to revive its fortunes in India with a significant expansion in its product portfolio and dealership network over the next two to three years.
The maker of the Micra hatchback and Sunny sedan will also “strengthen the Nissan and Datsun brands" and “optimise flexible manufacturing and strengthen R&D facilities together with its alliance partners in the country," the Japanese auto maker said in a statement on Thursday.
“Nissan is committed to India and has built the foundations to succeed," said Peyman Kargar, senior vice president at the automaker.
“The Nissan brand will bring the best of global Nissan products and technology to our customers in India. For Datsun, we aim to offer compelling products across segments offering value, connectivity and Japanese engineering," he said.
Nissan has not found much success in India since its foray here in 2005 and has instead mainly used its joint venture plant with Renault SA in Chennai as an export base for 106 countries. At the end of FY18, Nissan had a market share of 1.61% in the domestic passenger vehicle segment, down from 1.88% in FY17, according to data provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
Sales of Nissan and Datsun brand of cars during this period fell 7.9% to 52,796 units, ranking the company 10th out of 17th passenger vehicle makers in India.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest car maker, in comparison controlled half of the domestic market.
The mid-sized sport-utility vehicle Kicks would be the first product to be launched next year from a range of cars, including electric and connected vehicles, from Nissan’s global portfolio, it said.
A doubling of sales and service touchpoints, in addition to strengthening the dealership network, in the next three years is also on the cards. Nissan also aims to expand regional marketing and sales operations to four key regions across India.
The company aims to reduce complexity in manufacturing through greater use of four common platforms as part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance’s 2022 goal to make 9 million cars per year globally.
“Our aim is to ensure our operations in India are best in class and that India becomes an more significant global hub for Nissan and the alliance in manufacturing, engineering and research and development," Kargar said. Plant utilisation would be increased “substantially" to enable greater efficiencies, he said.
Since 2010, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has invested ₹ 6,100 crore in India towards engineering, R&D and manufacturing and will continue to focus on the Indian market in these areas, the company said.
Analysts said the comeback will not be easy as there are multiple headwinds facing the automaker, including a diluted brand identity. “Nissan has not been able to define what the brand stands for in India," said Anil Sharma, associate director at MarketsandMarkets, a market research firm.
Limited success with a few model launches has not helped its cause, so “a string of successful model launches at regular intervals" would be essential to success, Sharma said.
He however said India is a “brutal" market and rising competitive intensity would be another major headwind.