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Renault weighs small car

Sumit Sawhney in Calcutta on Friday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

Calcutta, March 14: French automobile major Renault is looking to launch a small car in India by 2015.

The company has decided not to cross-badge cars with partner Nissan but build its own models in the small car and utility segments.

Selling the same car with cosmetic changes under different brand names is known as cross-badging.

Renault India country CEO and managing director Sumit Sawhney said the company was working on a small car based on the common module family platform. The car will be placed below the Pulse hatchback.

“India would continue to remain a small car market. About 50 per cent of the cars sold are in the sub Rs 4-lakh segments. How can any automobile company stay out of this segment?” Sawhney said.

The company is betting on the small car and another utility vehicle, to be launched by 2015, to drive sales. It now sells five models in the country.

Sawhney said unlike the Pulse, Scala and Duster, which had similarities with Nissan’s Micra, Sunny and Terrano, the upcoming models would have a distinctive identity. “The purpose of cross-badging was to initially build up the volume and establish the brand,” he said.

He said the car maker, which sold around 64,000 units in 2013, planned to raise its market share to 5 per cent from around 2 per cent within three years.

Renault plans to increase its domestic network to 175 dealerships from 125 now. “We are looking to augment our dealer network to 175 by the end of 2014,” Sawhney said, adding that dealerships are being planned in Shillong, Aizawl (Mizoram), Jorhat and Dibrugarh.

He said the excise duty cut on small cars and SUVs, announced in the interim budget, was yet to translate into robust sales.

 
 
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