Renault bets on diesel models to beat competition

Sun, Dec 18 2011 12:12 IST | 407 Views
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Kolkata, Dec 18

With diesel variants now accounting for over a fourth of India's passenger car sales, French major Renault has decided to roll out this fuel's versions in three of its new launches next year with more locally-sourced parts to cut costs.

"Every model which we launch next year will have a diesel version," said Len Curran, Renault India vice president for sales and marketing. "Our focus is on diesel cars," Curran told IANS in an interview over phone from Chennai.

Last year, diesel cars accounted for 27 percent of the 2.52 million passenger cars sold in India and the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex lobby for the auto industry, expects this share to go up to 33 percent by the end of this fiscal.

Renault has made this strategic move at a time when the auto industry is facing a rough patch, following falling passenger car sales due to high fuel cost and soaring interest rates. Petrol prices were hiked five times this year, while diesel remained stable.

Also, the weakening of the Indian rupee against the US dollar has added to the woes of carmakers, making import of components expensive and thereby pushing up input costs.

Renault has plans to launch Pulse, a hatchback in B segment, at the New Delhi Auto Expo in January 2012. In the second half of the next year, it will launch Duster, an SUV. In the fourth quarter of the year, it will roll out a sedan.

The car maker, which entered India in 2005, says it expects India to become the world's fourth-biggest car market within three years. In March 2010, the Renault-Nissan Alliance opened its unit in Chennai that has a capacity to produce 400,000 cars a year.

Renault launched a luxury sedan, Fluence, in May, that runs on petrol and diesel. In September, it came up with a compact SUV, Koleos, that operates only on diesel. The company also has big plans for its K90 diesel engine in the Indian market.

Curran, who expects India to be the second fastest growing market after China, said his company aims to cover a minimum of 35 Indian cities through its distribution network before August 2012.

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