By : RACHNA TYAGI
NEW DELHI :
At Nissan India’s event mega event in New Delhi, where the company showcased three of their SUVs, the Qashqai, the Juke, and the X-Trail, we spoke with Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd (NMIPL), about their new products, their India business plans, and how Indians are all set to brace newer technologies.
TOS: The vehicles (Qashqai, Juke, and X-Trail) showcased have been around in the international market for quite a while, why the delay in bringing them to India?
RS: We have been in the Indian market for 17 years and the market has been evolving. Our journey has been with SUVs, but largely, with hatchbacks and sedans. Over a period of time that we’ve been in the Indian market, we’ve seen the Indian customer become more discerning and more demanding, and for them, we were able to bring in an SUV in the Indian market – the Nissan Kicks. A phenomenal number of learning and customer insights came in from there which went into the development of the Nissan Magnite, which became a stupendous success for us towards being bold and beautiful. It is a turnaround journey for us and the next stage from turnaround is transformation. These three products that we have showcased today – three different technologies that we have showcased to the Indian customer and to the Indian market – are part of the transformation journey. We’ve shown three levels of electrification today, hybrid, e-force and e-power. We also have the fourth one which is a pure electric – the Nissan Leaf, launched a few years ago, and which has sold almost 500,000 vehicles worldwide with a zero-accident record. This is very unique because today, when you see the Indian market where there are accidents on safety parameters on EVs, we’re proud to say that Nissan Leaf which has sold in multiple conditions in the global market has an accident-free record.
TOS: After Leaf came the Ariya and now, there are these newer technologies that you just showcased… which one of these will be the first one to enter the Indian market?
RS: After Leaf we introduced the Ariya, last year, a global product, and it is doing very well. So, currently, we can say there are two pure electric vehicles. In addition to that, multiple levels of electrification are being addressed, the hybrid, e-force and e-power. We are looking forward to testing these technologies in India, testing these body styles and based on the insights that we generate and the understanding that we have, where [after] meeting the product performance in the Indian market we will definitely be launching it. In the testing stage today, in a very, very advanced stage is the X-Trail, it will be the first product to be brought in for the Indian market.
TOS: What are the possibilities of the manufacturing the X-Trail in India?
RS: Currently, our focus is to see the product performance because that is very important. Our driving conditions are quite challenging with the Himalayas on one side, the coastal region on the other side, the desert plains on the other side…our customers are known to drive cars over a longer period of time, for longer hours, and in different terrains, and in such a situation, product performance is the most important [thing] for us. In terms of CBU, CKD, SKD, or local manufacturing, that is a business decision, a second decision. The first one is most important and that is what we’re addressing right now.
TOS: How ready are Indians for these new technologies that you just displayed?
RS: The SUV market got into the next stage in the global market. Six years back SUVs were second or third to hatchbacks and sedans in terms of volumes or in terms of contribution to the auto industry. But a lot has changed. Today, SUVs are the largest which basically says that Indian customers are well connected to global products and are very discerning and very demanding. The Indian customer’s capability or ability to pay is on the higher side with the GDP growth rate that we have and with the controlled interest and the banking finances that are available. So, I believe that Indian customers have the ability to own a global product and the global technologies and if you look at it today, the gap has narrowed down or I would say disappeared totally. Besides, they also have aspirations and they’re meeting them. And that’s the reason today, if you look, there are multiple CBUs from many OEMs which have a high waiting period and where CBUs are taxed the highest. That shows that the customer when presented with the right choice… which he/she [also] feels is the right choice is willing to pay.
TOS: Our readers would like to know about when you plan on getting the hugely popular Nissan Patrol and the Nissan Pathfinder to India?
RS: Nissan has a global product portfolio in SUVs and in fact, we have one of the strongest DNAs. Today, we showcased three SUVs; let’s work towards the others.