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MUMBAI: Nissan Motor India is shifting its focus in India to sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers, as the Japanese auto maker looks to throttle up performance in a market where it has so far fallen way short of expectations.
Post Tuesday’s launch of the Datsun Redi-GO, a crossover hatchback, Nissan Motor India has at least three more offerings planned for the next three years.
Three people in the know of the plan said the strategy is to play across the segment, with the Redi-GO at the entry level to the new XTrail at the premium end. The company has already announced plans to launch the XTrail this year.
Nissan will have two more products. The Datsun GO Cross , codenamed EM2, is expected to hit the road in 2019 with a price tag of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, the same as the Ford EcoSport and Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza . It is likely to be preceded by the Nissan Kicks SUV, internally called PB1D, to take on the Hyundai Creta in the Rs 8-15 lakh range.
“Yes, you are right,” said Guillaume Sicard , president of India operations, Nissan Motor Corp , when asked about the company’s SUV focus. “SUV know-how is strong at Nissan. This is what India wants. It is a logical direction obviously for us to look at.”
The utility vehicle segment is one of the fastest growing in India. Industry analysts forecast its share in India’s total passenger vehicle sales to expand to 25-30% in five years from the current 20-21%, with more than a dozen new launches planned across brands.
Nissan had a dismal show in India’s utility vehicle market, with the Terrano failing to replicate the success of the Duster, the Renault SUV built on the same platform.
With none of its products bringing in mass volume, Nissan’s India market share was a mere 1.4% in the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2016. It had a target to capture 5% of the market by 2017, but that has now been pushed to 2020.
To gain volume, it has now shifted attention more towards Datsun, the brand that would house its affordable vehicles. Out of the eight all-new products planned by the Renault-Nissan alliance for India, five will be in the utility vehicle space.
The EM2 and PB1D will be built on the modern modular platforms, CMF-A+ and CMF-B, developed by the Renault-Nissan alliance. According to one of the three people ET spoke to, PB1D or Nissan Kicks will be the first product on the Common Module Family or CMF-B platform and production is expected to start in May 2018.
The GO Cross will be on the CMF-A+ platform, slated for mid-2019. Sicard declined to comment on the company’s immediate product launches.
“Nissan brand is extremely important for India, you will see more and more global products. We have worked on the product plan, so we know where we are going, Nissan is going to be a more global brand and Datsun will be more for the mass and risers.”