M&M JV was an entry ticket to India

Updated: Sep 30 2008, 07:21am hrs
Sylvain Bilaine, country general manager and managing director, Renault India, has his hands full. While on one hand, he is busy getting the companys manufacturing plant with its alliance partner Nissan ready in Chennai, he is also working with JV partners Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Bajaj Auto. Excerpts from an interview he had with FEs Shweta Bhanot

How different is it working with Bajaj Auto on the one hand and M&M, on the other

M&M was an entry ticket for us in India. In 2005, we created the JV - Mahindra Renault - for Logan. It was the best opportunity we had and we have been successful. We transformed Logan from its Romanian origin (Eastern Europe origin) for a corporate market.

For the development of the ultra low-cost (ULC) car, we have decided that there will be an integrated team located in Pune inside the JV (Renault-Nissan-Bajaj).

The team will mainly comprise Indian engineers and will sub-contract some of the task either to Nissan auto and engineering when they feel their capabilities arent sufficient.

Since Bajaj engineers have never been exposed to a crash test as its specific to the car industry, the Renault and Nissan team will contribute from Paris and Tokyo on this front.

How do you see the Indian market vis--vis the European market

India is not a mature market, its a dynamic market - a product will come in and would disappear in two years. In contrast, a market like Western Europe is very stable. People there usually drive B segment car and will continue driving B segment cars and then upgrade to C segment. India is not like this. If you bring a product which satisfies the needs of the customers instantly, then it is going to be successful. Today, we need to grab tomorrows trends and transform them into a product. We are looking at the kind of size Renault enjoys worldwide here. We are producing 2.5 million cars every year and serve customers from smaller cars to bigger ones. We have a full line of light commercial vehicles (LCVs).

What will be your marketing strategy in India

We have 100 dealers under the Mahindra Renault network. These people are helping us sell Renault cars. Remember, the cars have Renault diamond logo, though known as Mahindra Renault. This is a very strong asset for us and we do not want to lose it.

We are currently negotiating with Mahindra on an agreement to continue working with them on the distribution of our products in India that will be coming from Chennai, and imported vehicles from Europe and Korea.

As far as ULC is concerned, we have discussions with Bajaj and Nissan to see what can be the best distribution network for the product. We believe that ULC is a very unique segment and customers that it will cater to will be new customers. These customers will not get into a Mahindra- Renault showroom, so well have to invent a new distribution network for them.