Stylish hatchback to be Renaults big bet in small car segment

Written by Rajat Guha | Rajat Guha | Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 23 2010, 05:29am hrs
After a not-so-pleasant experience with Indian partner Mahindra & Mahindra over its mid-segment sedan Logan, French automaker Renault has now decided to enter the small car segment alone with a stylish hatchback. If all goes according to plans, the hatchback would debut in the Indian market by middle of 2012.

The company plans to launch the new hatch on V-platform, which it shares with Nissans Micra, slated to hit the roads in a week. The Renault small car is likely to give tough time to VWs newly launched Polo, Fiat Punto, Honda Jazz, Maruti Swift and Nissans Micra with its competitive pricing.

Renault also plans to launch an SUV for Rs 7-8 lakh in 2011. This would strengthen its position in the below-Rs10-lakh segment, posing a challenge to Mahindra Xylo and Toyota Innova.

The car would use the Logan platform, which is handy with the car maker.

A Renault India spokesperson confirmed that the companys India plans were being put on the fast track but declined to share details of the new hatch. The Renault-Nissan alliance is the most successful example of two major car companies creating synergies for growth while maintaining their individual identities in global markets. The V platform was developed for use by both companies. As far as India is concerned, we would not like to comment on any specific models that will be launched by Renault based on the V-platform, the spokesperson said.

However, he added that India would see roll-out of five new models by 2013. As announced earlier, Renault will launch the Fluence (luxury sedan) and the Koleos (4x4 Crossover) starting mid-2011. Industry sources told FE that Fluence and Koleos would be aggressively priced at Rs 12 lakh and Rs 16-17 lakh, respectively. Again, with the launch of these two models, the company would gain a foothold in the premium sedan and premium SUV segments. The cars to face heat in these two segments are Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Skoda Laura, VW Jetta, Ford Endevour, Toyota Fortuner and Mitzubishi Pajero.

As part of this effort, the company is working aggressively to build a retail network towards which it has received over 300 dealership applications.

The mood within Renaults Indian operations is clearly more upbeat than what it was when it ceded the Logan business to Mahindra & Mahindra. Despite the Logan setback, Renault has always maintained that this lesson was critical from the viewpoint of understanding the Indian market and what customers really sought in their cars.