Will launch a new sedan to take on Toyota Etios, other C segment cars

Nissan Motor Co. of Japan is hoping to sell 40,000 Micra cars in India this year.

A compact car, Micra is a hatch-back. This fourth generation car is based on the all-new V-platform and produced at the Oragadam facility (near Chennai), which is a joint venture between Nissan and Renault.

Nissan has sold over 15,000 Micra cars in India since its launch in July last year.

The Chennai plant, which will have an overall capacity of 4 lakh units at full ramp up, will ultimately supply Micra to over 100 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. To-date, nearly 70,000 units have been shipped from the nearby Ennore deep water port.

Addressing select media persons here on Friday, Gilles Normand, Corporate Vice-President for Africa, Middle East and India and also AMIE Infiniti and LCV Business Unit, said that Nissan was well on course to hit the target of selling 100,000 Micra cars in India in 2013.

Nissan has rolled out its 100,000th Micra car from its Oragadam facility on Thursday.

Mr. Normand said that “Nissan is in India for good”. The company, he said, had committed an investment of Rs.4,500 crore. So far, it had invested Rs.2,800 crore.

“We will invest the remaining committed money,” he added.

To a question, Mr. Normand said the initial bias towards exports was mainly intended to gain the scale advantage. Exports would pre-dominate in the initial three years, he said. He, nevertheless, assured the media persons that this imbalance between export and domestic sale would be ‘re-balanced'. Having expanded dealer network and understood the Indian market and competition, Nissan was now in a position to re-balance its focus on the domestic market, he said.

“We will also be launching a new sedan from our global platform to take on Toyata Eitos and other ‘C' segment cars. The new sedan will be launched before the year-end and will be priced competitively,” he added. He said that it would entirely be a new sedan and not an extension of Micra. All new products would be introduced under the new ‘V' platform, he added.

Mr. Normand said Nissan would soon go in for third shift. With the joint venture partner Renault too announcing its plan to launch five cars by 2012, the two partners had decided to go in for a second production line. This would come up by early 2012, Mr. Norman said.

According to him, the Indian market “is shifting towards diesel cars”. Given the rising input costs and hardening interest rates, diesel vehicles would become preferred ones in India.

In this context, he hinted that Nissan would soon increase the “localisation of the diesel engine in India”. He, however, would not hazard any guess on the increase in localisation level of its diesel engine.

To a question, Mr. Normand was not willing to rule out the possibility of Nissan entering the Indian luxury car space. He added a rider, however. “If there is a business case for it, we will certainly think of entering this space,” he added.

“We have luxury cars under our Infiniti brand. A few officials have made visits to India to assess the market conditions. Currently, the import duty is high in India. It should make business sense for us to launch the same in CBU (completely built unit) model,” he said.

On the electric car, he said Nissan had an open mind. The environment should be right, he said. A combination of factors ranging from incentives to the establishment of ‘recharge grid' and education on the subject were essential for the development of electric car market in India, he said.