With over 18 years of experience in the Indian automotive space, Sumit Sawhney brings to Renault India his expertise across multiple functions which include marketing, sales, aftersales and dealer development. He was previously an integral part of General Motors' entry and success in India and helped build the company's brand and dealer network across the country. In a candid conversation with autojunction.in, Sawhney tells us about Renault India’s future plans, economic impediments and why the Duster is not threatened by competition.
AJ: What are the new products and facelifts that Renault plans to launch in the next 2 years?
SS: I have always believed that 7-8 products make an ideal portfolio for any car manufacturer. We have launched 5 products in India within a short span of 18 months. Presently our entire focus is on strengthening our presence in the country and expanding our dealer network. We want to be at all the right places. The target is to reach 130 outlets up from 100 by the end of 2013. And as for introducing more products, presently we are evaluating segments which can give us volumes, similar to what the Duster has done for us. We are working on more products across segments which can be expected to hit the market in the next 2-3 years of time. What products and when is something we can only comment on at a later date.
AJ: At present, the Pulse hatchback is the entry point to the Renault brand in the Indian market. Are we going to see Renault manufacturing hatchbacks below the Pulse price range? Perhaps something based on the Datsun Go platform?
SS: We understand that subcompact is a very important segment in India and Renault wants to have a presence there. Six months ago, Renault’s global CEO Carlos Ghosn has announced that the Renault-Nissan alliance is working towards developing the Common Module Family (CMF) platform which will underpin several Renault and Nissan cars in the future. So a subcompact on the CMF is definitely a possibility in the future. But nothing on the Datsun Go platform.
AJ: Nissan has just introduced the Terrano compact SUV in India. What kind of impact is that likely to have on Duster sales considering that both these vehicles are built on the same platform and is similar to each other in many respects?
SS: I like to believe that different people have different tastes. Some people like European cars, while some have a preference for Japanese vehicles. So we aren’t looking at the Nissan Terrano as competition. It is our conviction that those who prefer European design, elegance and class will continue to choose Duster over any other product in the segment.
AJ: Ford launched its much awaited EcoSport in end of June 2013 at a very competitive price band. Over the last two months, the EcoSport has boosted Ford’s sales figures in India. What impact has that had on Duster’s sales?
SS: I think it is unfair to compare the Duster with EcoSport. It is like comparing apples with oranges. They are two different products. The pricing and positioning of these products are different from one another. EcoSport is a sub-four metre SUV and is positioned in a different price band. It’s true that every new product creates a buzz in the market and the Ford EcoSport is no exception to the rule. However, that hasn’t affected us. Honestly it’s not the introduction of the EcoSport which has resulted in the dip in Duster sales. The truth is that compact SUV segment as a whole has declined over the past few months and that is despite the introduction of new products in the segment. This is the real reason behind the slight dip in Duster sales number.
AJ: Some of the other car manufacturers like Honda, Hyundai and Maruti are also looking to enter the compact SUV space which Renault had created. What strategy is Renault India devising to tackle future competition?
SS: We have never had problems with new products being launched in the market. In fact, we want more products in the compact SUV space and want the segment to grow as a whole. Renault would continue to produce quality products and offer better value propositions to customers. I believe there is enough room for a lot of players in this segment. So it’s not competition that we are worried about. Rather it is the economic challenges that pose a strong impediment.
AJ: After Logan, Duster is the second Dacia product that you have introduced in India. Are you also considering other Dacia models for the Indian market?
SS: When Renault decided to launch the Duster in India, it made close to 40 changes in the Duster and instilled the Renault DNA to make it a suitable product for India. In the future if we do plan to introduce any vehicle in India, it will similarly have the Renault DNA and be packed with features which will make it desirable and fit for the Indian market.
Renault Car Features
Country CEO and MD of Renault India, Sumit Sawhney in a candid conversation with autojunction.in, speaks about the company future road map plans, the country auto sector and the government impetus required for the sector.
With over 18 years of experience in the Indian automotive space, Sumit Sawhney brings to Renault India his expertise across multiple functions which include marketing, sales, aftersales and dealer development. He was previously an integral part of General Motors' entry in India and helped build the company's brand and dealer network across the country. In a candid conversation with autojunction.in, Sawhney tells us about Renault India’s future plans and why the Duster is not threatened by competition.
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