Renault Plans Made-In-India Hatchback Launch By Early 2012
Renault, France’s second-largest car maker, is conducting feasibility studies for building a car that would be fully developed in India using expertise from its fledgling research and development and design centre in the country.
While the road map for this year and the next involves launching nearly half a dozen passenger vehicles in the local market, the new locally developed cars could come in the next phase of expansion that would begin in 2015.
The French company will, most likely, look to build a small hatchback to start with, which could complement a premium new small car due for launch early next year. However, company officials said it would not be possible to share details, as the study had just begun.
Len Curran, vice-president, sales and marketing, Renault India, said, “We are seriously looking at all opportunities that India represents. We are working on a car that can be developed fully in India. However, this project can happen only in the next phase of planning. We are yet to decide on what vehicle will it be.”
The concept of a made-in-India car is, however, not new. Market leader Maruti Suzuki was first off the block when it announced similar plans three years ago. It, too, is expanding its engineering footprint in the country mainly to assist Suzuki’s home country Japan, is a hub in developing compact cars.
The locally developed car will be built using expertise from Indian engineers. Like the global trend of using one platform for multiple purposes to achieve better economies of scale, Renault too, may go in for having more products from one platform.
Like some other global car companies such as General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, Renault is expanding its R&D support based in Chennai. About 1,400 people work at the R&D centre that shares its work with sister company Nissan.
The R&D centre’s (known as Renault Nissan Engineering), primary objective is to fine-tune all those models which are to be launched in India to suit the driving conditions here. They also work on international projects such as Asia and Europe, stated Curran. The company also has an auto design centre in Mumbai.
As announced earlier, Renault will launch four more passenger vehicles by the end of 2012. It launched the Fluence premium sedan last month to be sold in the same segment as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Skoda Laura and Chevrolet Cruze.
A new small car, which is being developed presently outside India, will be launched perhaps in January next year. This car, which will compete with Maruti Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, Fiat Grande Punto to name a few, is using the same platform seen on the Nissan Micra.
After its break-up with Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra, where it jointly made the Logan sedan from Nashik, Renault hopes to go full throttle over its plans involving additional investment that would also go into setting up an engine and transmission plant.
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