NEW DELHI : Renault SA is seeking deeper inroads into India’s semi-urban and rural areas to boost sales after having struggled in the past two years with products like Captur and Lodgy failing to make a substantial impact.

The French automaker is hoping that its latest product, the Triber multipurpose vehicle, will carry on the success it enjoyed initially with the Duster and Kwid models.

The company plans to launch a new model each year through 2022 with an aim to double its share of the domestic market, Venkatram Mamillapalle, managing director and chief executive, Renault India Pvt. Ltd said on Wednesday.

To support its product offensive, Renault India also plans to double its showrooms across the country to 700 by the end of next year.

Also, like the Kwid hatchback, all the new vehicle models would be designed and developed specifically for the Indian market, Mamillapalle said, in an indication of the lessons learnt by Renault from the market failures of the Lodgy multipurpose vehicle and Captur sport-utility vehicle.

The Kwid hatchback, which first went on sale in 2015, helped Renault achieve 5% market share in India for the first time. However, Renault’s fortunes dwindled in line with declining sales of the Kwid as later products such as the Captur and Lodgy failed to attract new buyers amid intense competition.

In the April-July period, Renault India’s vehicle sales fell 21% from the year earlier to 21,265 units, giving the automaker a market share of 2.32%. During the same period, market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s volumes declined 25% year on year to 459,895 units.

Mamillapalle said Renault currently sells about 500 cars in rural areas and towns each month and the target is to garner at least 30% of total vehicle sales from the rural markets, a sharp increase from less than 5% currently.

“I strongly believe that rural is the market of the future. The young generation in our industry is moving towards ride hailing rather than owning a car," he said. “After demonetization, we have seen the downturn in the real estate sector and slowly, it is coming back and it has started to revive in towns and not the big cities. So, the first reflection of revival is in the rural towns. Our new product Triber is fit for both rural and urban markets, given the price points".

The Triber has a starting price of 4.95 lakh, reaching up to 6.49 lakh for the top-end version. The 7-seater vehicle is powered by 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Renault will not offer the Triber with a diesel engine as it plans to discontinue diesel models from April 2020, when Bharat Stage VI norms will be enforced.

With the union government urging automakers to develop electric vehicles and earmarking 10,000 crore to invest in subsidy programme for promoting electric mobility, Renault may launch its first electric product in 2022 provided there is a proper ecosystem.

“We will be venturing in the electric vehicle space and you will see something from us by 2022. Most important thing is ecosystem and India is still not equipped with that. You can’t travel toMumbai from Delhi in an electric vehicle and the day we have an ecosystem which can allow that is when an electric vehicle is needed," Mamillapalle said.


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