The Renault India Country MD has asserted that the automobile industry looks forward to the government spelling out a road map
Underscoring the need for the country to have a stable fuel policy, Renault India Country Managing Director Marc Nassif has asserted that the automobile industry is not against change but looks forward to the government spelling out a road map, at least for ten years, for it to plan accordingly.
“We are not anti-change,” he said, in response to a question about the government’s move to increase taxes on diesel vehicles. A ten year road map was given when Europe decided to phase out the tax advantage on diesel fuel, he said. Whereas, in India, the industry was left to crystal-gaze every March to find out which way the policy would go.
Interacting with presspersons at the launch of Renault compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) Duster here on Thursday, Mr. Nassif elaborated that a consistent fuel policy and a road map were imperatives as investments in a powertrain by car makers was for 20 years. The companies needed time to respond to a policy decision, he said, without discounting the possibility of Renault going in for a different mix, in terms of production of petrol and diesel vehicles, at the time of expanding the operations.
The French automobile major operates in the country through Renault India Private Ltd., a fully-owned subsidiary. Renault cars are manufactured in the Alliance plant in Oragadam, on the outskirts of Chennai, with a capacity of two lakh units per annum.
Noting that Renault was strongly committed to India, Mr. Nassif said Duster was the fourth of the five announced launches in the last 12 months.
While the premium sedan Fluence, the luxury SUV Koleos and the premium compact Pulse were the others, the fifth would be a small sedan and would be launched before Diwali, he said. With Duster combining the comfort and sophistication of a sedan and the ruggedness of an SUV, the company was planning to create a new segment. Both petrol and diesel versions of Duster are available.
Renault, which has sold three lakh Duster globally since its launch three years ago, had made certain changes to the vehicle towards adapting it to Indian conditions. “It [Duster in India] has many things that we do not find in other Dusters,” he said, adding that there were plans to export the SUV to the U.K. after meeting the demand in India.
The company, Mr. Nassif said, was committed to its investment of Rs.4,500 crore in the Alliance plant (with Nissan) before February 2015, he said, declaring: “We will not wait till 2015 for bringing all investments.” The company had also expanded the dealer network, more than what was originally planned, and set to take the number to 100 next year.