2014 was the year of consolidation for Renault: Sumit Sawhney

Published: January 31, 2015 1:08 AM

After lying low for sometime, Renault India is gearing up for launches, especially in the MPV and hatchback segments...

After lying low for sometime, Renault India is gearing up for launches, especially in the MPV and hatchback segments, to become a volume player. The company will continue to expand its network, particularly in non-metros, to achieve 5% market share in three years, says Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and managing director, Renault India Operations, in an interview with R Ravichandran. Excerpts

How was Renault India’s performance in 2014?

Renault continued with its endeavour to ‘Drive the Change’ in India and maintained its track record of being the number one European brand, and the ninth largest carmaker in India, a feat it achieved in 2013 after just three years of operations. I would call 2014 the year of consolidation for Renault. While we focused on the present, we also worked towards building a strong runway to be future-ready. We kept our product range fresh and contemporary, and also grew our network presence to more than 157 sales and service outlets across the country.

We plan to further expand next year, which will be one of the fastest ramp-ups by an auto manufacturer in India. In 2014, we unveiled the KWID concept car at the Delhi Auto Show. This was followed up with the new Fluence, boasting tech-savvy features, and the new Koleos with superior design cues and an all- new transmission.

Having sold over a lakh Dusters, we launched the Adventure Edition and the Limited Anniversary edition to celebrate two years of the car in India. We have a long-term focus on the market and are working towards achieving 5% market share in three years. This will be done through both launching new vehicles and expanding our dealer network.

What are the new products you will launch in India?

Our focus in 2015 will be on introducing two new products in exciting segments — the Lodgy in the MPV segment and a compact hatch that will target the heart of the Indian automotive industry. We are taking steps to increase our presence in India by entering the the volume and growth segments. We are also looking to increase our presence in tier II-IV markets, which will play a key role in the company’s growth. We look forward to 2015 with great optimism.

What is Renault’s long-term plan for India?

We are one of the youngest automobile brands in the country and, during our journey over the last three years, we have rapidly expanded presence both geographically and with swift product introduction. We have launched five new products in quick succession. Our plan was to move in and take off very fast, and we have achieved that, becoming the ninth biggest automobile manufacturer and the number one European company in India.

What are your expectations from the Union budget?

It is still early days and we will have to wait and see the impact of the excise duty hike on customer sentiment. We have seen some positive policy decisions and look forward to sustained pro-business interventions that will benefit the industry. These include diesel price deregulation, which will enable a substantial reduction in government subsidy, thereby reducing the overall burden on the budget. The government’s decision to resolve VAT disputes has encouraged Indian automakers to consider further investments . The industry is also looking forward to the implementation of the GST bill, which the government has tabled in the Lok Sabha.

We want the government to introduce a scrappage incentive scheme that will keep older cars off the roads. This will reduce fuel consumption and propel demand for greener and efficient vehicles.

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