The French multinational brand Renault recently launched two new vehicles in Nepal- the SUV Duster and hatchback Kwid which were also showcased at the 11th NADA Auto Show. Marking its entry in the domestic automobile market with these two models, the company aspires to become a top passenger vehicle brand in the country. Sumit Sawhney who has been the Managing Director and CEO of Groupe Renault India since 2014 was in Kathmandu for the official launch of the SUV and hatchback. He started working with the company in 2012 as the Executive Director of Marketing and Sales. Prior to Renault, he was the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and After Sales at General Motors India. In an interview with New Business Age, Sawhney to talk about the newly launched four-wheelers, the present Nepali automobile market and Renault’s strategies for Nepal. Excerpts:
There are many global and regional four-wheeler brands in Nepal at the moment. Why do you think Nepali customers should choose Renault? What does Renault offer?
Customers mainly seek three things when they buy any product. Firstly, they look to see if the chosen product comes with the right features. Second, is value for money while the third is the right after sales service. If we talk about the two Renault entries, they are very nicely designed four-wheelers. The Kwid, for instance, is a SUV inspired car which has lots of space inside. When it comes to features, there is no car other than the Kwid with touch screens in this segment. The car has Pro-sense seatbelts bringing a lot of innovation to its safety features. Excellent for off road driving, Kwid also has the highest ground clearance which is as good as a SUV. It offers a mileage of 25.17 km/litre which is the highest in terms of fuel efficiency for any vehicle in this segment on the continent.
Who are your target customers?
Renault has a very broad spectrum of customers and with the launch of Kwid and Duster in Nepal, we are targeting two sets of customers here. Kwid is a spacious car launched at an entry level price. It is perfect for customers who are seeking to shift to four-wheelers from two-wheelers. In the meantime, it is a very stylish car which can be perfect for young people preferring hatchbacks. The Duster, on the other hand is an iconic SUV aimed at customers looking for a stylish and powerful vehicle.
What about after sales service here?
Maintenance costs add up to a lot after buying a vehicle. We will be providing spare parts to our customers at affordable price points. Even though Renault is a European brand, we are 17 percent lower than the market leader regarding the pricing of spare parts in India. The pricing is very competitive because most of the parts are produced in India. Similarly, we will be providing top class after sales services with our good distribution network of 10 dealerships across Nepal.
Our services will be both reactive and proactive. We will be offering ‘Workshop on Wheels’ (mobile workshop) which no other brand in Nepal provides. This will be a full-fledged workshop which will move around the country with its service. This concept was launched in India for the first time and we are starting it here for the second time.
What obstacles are in the way and what can we do to develop the automobile sector here?
The automobile sector is a growing industry in Nepal though the roads are generally not good for cars. Improving the condition of the roads is important as it can add to market growth. Introducing the “scrappage policy” will further benefit the car market. All newly designed cars are fuel efficient and have Euro-4 technology that creates 15 times less pollution than the non-euro 4 vehicles. Fuel efficiency means Nepal will be spending less foreign currency purchasing fuel. Besides this, the latest cars ensure safety. While India has already decided to announce the policy, we have also talked with the Prime Minister of Nepal regarding the introduction of the policy. While the country is developing its infrastructure, such progressive initiatives will also help the economy develop faster.
How is Renault positioned globally? How is the automobile brand performing in India? What is the market share there?
Renault is positioned as a strongly growing brand globally. We are expanding our operations across the world. The market share has risen thrice compared to two years back. Our brand is present in 125 countries. Around 2.8 million Renault cars were sold worldwide in 2015.
We are the youngest and fastest growing automobile brand in India. In just four years, Renault has been able to achieve 6th position in India with a 4.5 percent market share. Also, Renault as a company has a leverage producing global cars in this region. Moreover, the ‘Make in India’ concept has encouraged us to build the products locally. Except for some electronic parts, most major parts are manufactured by Renault India. So, our customers across Asia will be getting spare parts at much lower prices.
What are your future plans here?
As Renault is bringing true French technology here, we are offering a level of excellence to our Nepali customers. We will expand our network all across the country. Likewise, we will be introducing more four-wheelers like Kwid and Duster. In the next few years, we aim to achieve a ten percent market share in the passenger vehicle segment in Nepal.