If you’ve been observing the sales analysis for the last few months, everyone has been reporting a negative trend. This is understandable on many levels. However, one company that has started showing a rise in sales happens to be Renault India. The French carmaker has been laughing its way to the bank. Renault currently has the Duster, Kwid, and Triber in its portfolio. With this three-car arsenal, it has been taking on the might of the Hyundais and Marutis. We recently caught up with Venkatram Mamillapalle, the country CEO and MD of Renault India operations. Our questions were directed on how the company has managed to hold its own among the competitors, new upcoming products, exports and other strategies. Venkatram also spoke about the new normal and precautions the company as well as dealers are taking. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Venkatram Mamillapalle (VM): COVID-19 is a challenge unlike any other faced by humanity in recent times. The crisis we are going through is a global one and has had a huge impact on the global economy and industries. The Indian automobile industry has been severely impacted and the obvious outcome is a sharp decline in sales, shrinking of the industry volume, and major disruptions in supply chain logistics and manufacturing.
For us at Renault, the second quarter of this calendar year (April-June), has been primarily about safeguarding the interests of our stakeholders – employees, customers, dealers and the community at large. And we have done that successfully with prompt action and key enablers on each front.
When business gradually opened post the lockdown around mid-May, our first priority was ensuring that we have the necessary safety and hygiene measures across all are sales and service touchpoints. We ensured special care to sanitise all our facilities. There were multiple training programmes, protocols and processes put in place to monitor the execution of our customer-first initiatives and efforts, as a part of our ‘Welcome Back’ initiative.
We also announced a host of attractive offers for customers. These include a ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ scheme where customers can buy a Renault car and start paying their EMI later. We also introduced cash offers, exchange benefits and finance at a special rate. We complemented these offers with additional loyalty offers for existing customers. We significantly enhanced our digital capabilities and portfolios with online booking options and other interventions.
On the product front, we continued with our plans of enhancing the range. We launched Triber AMT in the end of May and then more recently, we have added a new RXL variant with a BS6 compliant 1.0L powertrain in MT and AMT versions to the Kwid range. Both these products are volume drivers for Renault India and have helped us to hold our position in these challenging times.
In July 2020, we recorded sales of 6,422 units, which is a 75.5 per cent growth over last year, which is the highest amongst all manufacturers.
We are seeing an encouraging response to the new Triber AMT and the new versions in the Kwid range, launched in July 2020. Together with this, all our stakeholder-actions led by an engaged network participating in the new initiatives, using digital platforms extensively to reach out to customers, and providing them the best of the services in these challenging times have contributed to our sales volumes.
There is gradual optimism coming back into the automobile industry and we are all hopeful that we will collectively navigate through these challenging times. We have also taken strategic decisions that have helped us to consolidate our operations and also safeguard all our stakeholders.
VM: India is one of the key markets for Groupe Renault and has been part of the top 10 global markets on a cumulative sales basis, for the last few years. We have some of the most popular global products in our portfolio, led by Kwid which is one of the top cars for the group globally. We will continue to work 360 degrees on our product range and enhance our capabilities to reach more customers in India.
On the product front, we continued with our plans of enhancing the range with Triber AMT and Kwid 1.0L RXL in MT and AMT. We will soon launch Duster with an all-new 1.3l turbo engine, making it the most powerful SUV in its segment.
Furthermore, we are readying an all-new product for the Indian market.
VM: In addition to our domestic focus, we are also exporting to South Africa and to the SAARC region. Within one year of its launch in India, Renault began to export the Kwid to various global markets. Renault has exported more than 45,300 units of the ‘Make In India’ Kwid. We have also started exports of Triber post its launch last year. Given the innovation that Triber enables, we foresee potential growth and high demand from other RHD markets in ASEAN region and around the world. We exported more than 13,500 cars in 2019.
VM: To ring in Independence Day, Renault has launched the ‘Reasons To Smile’ campaign, under which customers can avail of benefits of up to Rs 70,000 on Duster, up to Rs 35,000 on Kwid and up to Rs 30,000 on Triber. Other offers include no EMI for the first four months and finance at a special rate of 6.99 per cent. We have some exciting plans for the festive season as well which we will soon announce.
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