Fabrice Cambolive, the senior vice-president and chairman, Africa-Middle-East-India (AMI) region, Groupe Renault, speaks to Hormazd Sorabjee on the important role of design in Renault cars, the plan to revive demand for the Captur and the possibility of launching an electric Kwid in India.
Design was a very big theme for Renault at Auto Expo 2018. Is it something you are using to define the brand in India?
When we look at cars we have today, such as the Captur or Trezor, everything is focused on design and innovation in terms of design. And it’s not just design, but design with functionality.
In the last six years, we have successfully launched two cars – the Duster and the Kwid – that are not just pioneers in their respective segments but also bear specific references in terms of design while catering to the Indian buyers’ needs. We are trying to replicate the success of both models with the recently launched Captur.
But the Captur hasn’t been quite a runaway success. Why do you think it has not met expectations?
We are entering a new segment with the Captur. I think the Captur brings in modernity and a design that is different from what is seen in the SUV segment. We are pretty confident and sure about the vehicle which has proven to be a success in different markets like Russia and Brazil. We just have to work further in promoting the Captur and its features, and that will allow us to transform the vehicle into a commercial success. But to do that, we need time.
After just two months of launch I don’t think it is justified to comment on sales numbers. We should rather talk about enquiries and bookings. Just give us a few months to demonstrate the Captur’s potential in the Indian market. I’m very confident about the numbers.
You have talked about entering new segments. What are the new products we can expect from Renault?
India is a strategic market for the success of our medium-term plan. Being local in India is very important and that’s why we have two design centres. We also have a modern manufacturing plant and important technological centres. All these elements will, collectively, enable us to be on a product offensive for the next few years.
As a part of our growth strategy, we will launch one new product each year, targeting specific segments in India. Our next new model, due in 2019, will feature a big innovation in terms of roominess.
Can we expect Renault to introduce an affordable electric vehicle in India? If yes, when is that likely to happen?
We are paying a lot of attention to the government’s directions on electric vehicles. We have a good EV strategy and I think we are aligned with this direction. Renault has considerable experience in EVs; we are number one in Europe, where we have a
25 percent market share.
Secondly, we are developing new and affordable EVs in some countries now, and of course, we are looking at what we can
take from this learning to address our strategy for growth in this segment in India. We can introduce an electric vehicle in India in two years.
The Kwid will be electrified for China. Could we see the same in India?
I think it is possible once we see the response in China, but it is doable. More than China, we have to look at how the charging infrastructure develops in India.
In your portfolio, you have the Kwid family, the cars from the MO platform, and then a big white space in between. Are you trying to fill the void between the CMF-A and MO platforms?
In India, there is still a big white space in all segments. We have to grow with targeted products and weigh the potential models in terms of size and roominess. It is also important to tap into the SUV segment growth. There is a significant potential in the market and many directions for us to take. We will see how it all plays out over the next two years.