Nissan Magnite compact-SUV a make or break attempt for the carmaker in India

Nissan India has been losing ground but it plans to make another attempt to revive itself in India with a new SUV to rival the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Hyundai Venue. But could this be its last attempt to stay relevant in the Indian car market?

By:Updated: Apr 14, 2020 3:24 PM

Nissan India earlier in January had announced that it is working on a brand new model for the Indian market. The Japanese automaker revealed that the new model will be a compact-sized SUV and will launch it later this year. The product will be an indigenously designed vehicle for the Indian market catering to the needs and demands for Indian buyers. Since then, Nissan India has been teasing with images of the model of the upcoming SUV but refuses to share any intricate details about it.

A word-mark filing has confirmed that the Japanese automaker plans to call the upcoming model the Nissan Magnite. Nissan India has received the wordmark for the name from the Indian government and the filing was applied on February 7, 2020, and the journal date mentioned is March 2, 2020.

What Nissan has confirmed officially is that the Magnite will cater to the demands in the B-segment in India and will be launched before September 2020. The Magnite will be Nissan’s first India specific model that will be built from the ground up and it will be a feature-rich premium offering.

The B-Segment for SUVs is one of the most competitive segments, but it is also one the fastest growing and a high volume segment in India. The Nissan Magnite will rival the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Ford EcoSport, Tata Nexon, Honda WR-V and the Mahindra XUV300. For Nissan India, the Magnite is pretty much a make or break model.

Nissan India has been struggling in recent times to find growth in the competitive Indian market. With only a handful of models on offer, the Micra has not been updated extensively since it arrived in India a decade ago. The story is the same with the Sunny sedan that has been left in the dust by newer models like the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Hyundai Verna and the Honda City and the Nissan Kicks failed to make a major dent in the popularity of the Hyundai Creta and was later eclipsed by the Kia Seltos. The Kicks with its older-generation engines and lack of features failed to make a significant impact in the Indian market despite being a good vehicle to drive.

Sales numbers released by SIAM show that in the last financial year, Nissan India manufactured 88,505 vehicles which itself was down by 6% from the previous fiscal. All this from a plant that has an annual capacity of 4,00,000 units. Its total domestic sales in the entire fiscal stood at 17,976 units, translating into a massive decline of 50.7%. The rest of the produced models were exported and it is the only part of the business that saw some growth. In March 2020, Nissan was only able to sell 826 units and registered a steep decline of 71.5% against March 2019.

Nissan Motor Company is struggling internationally and is losing ground in important markets like China. The Indian market contributes marginally to the brand’s global volumes. Therefore, the Nissan Magnite has a lot of weight on its shoulders and the future of the brand in India somewhat depends on it. The Nissan Magnite needs to offer exactly what the Indian consumers in the segment expect from it and it needs to be competitively priced, built well and offer capable engines to be able to stand tall against its rivals. Also, Nissan India will need to package the Magnite variant lineup smartly

Nissan India is now being led by a new management team that is experienced and has a track record of delivering successful models for other carmakers in India. With the Magnite being designed and developed indigenously from the scratch this is Nissan’s best chance to ensure the Magnite strikes the right chord to prevent Nissan being struck out of the Indian market.

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