Marc Nassif, who was part of the Renault India leadership for nearly a decade and subsequently spearheaded operations in Morocco, has now called it a day.
”After a very exciting career around the world with Renault Group, which involved seven countries and four continents, I have now decided to rebalance my family life and other priorities,” he told Autocar Professional over the phone from Paris.
During his six-year tenure as Renault Group CEO of Morocco, Nassif ensured that the French carmaker’s market share did not slip below 40 percent even once. The plants were also operating at “full throttle” delivering over 400,000 vehicles every year. “It is something I feel very good about and I was fortunate to have worked with some really special people at Renault,” he said.
Between his stints at India and Morocco, Nassif had spent two years (mid-2014 to early ’16) at headquarters in Paris overseeing international engineering operations across Brazil, South Korea, Spain, India, Romania, Turkey, Morocco, Colombia, Russia and Argentina.
He had also told this writer, while getting set to head the Morocco operations of Renault in 2016, that it would almost seem like an India homecoming. The plant in Tangier was inspired by the Chennai facility’s manufacturing processes — teams from Morocco had visited Chennai on a number of occasions to understand and replicate some of the systems there prior to its commissioning in 2012.
Nassif also had to oversee the other Renault plant at Casablanca and the models sold in Morocco included the Logan, Sandero, Lodgy and the Dokker LCV. Over 90 percent of the four lakh cars produced jointly at Tangier and Casablanca head out to 70 markets worldwide under the Dacia and Renault brands.
Nassif admitted that he had a “wonderful professional stint” at Morocco where the efforts to increase market share had paid off handsomely. “To that extent, I am leaving on a high,” he added. Apart from a huge jump in annual output to over four lakh vehicles, Nassif’s tenure also saw a massive boost in the supplier ecosystem with a three-fold jump in the number of Tier 1 suppliers.
All this was significant from the viewpoint of an impact on the Kingdom of Morocco as well as the overall competitiveness of the Renault Group going beyond just “commercial performance”. Today, the automotive sector is the top exporter of the Kingdom and in the process only drives home the importance of the Renault Group in the country. “The most valuable asset I am leaving in Morocco are the very committed and talented teams,” said Nassif.
Rewind now to India where, as Managing Director till 2014, he had put in place a strong foundation for Renault following the parting of ways with Mahindra & Mahindra in the Logan joint venture. Commissioning the Chennai plant was not a cakewalk thanks to the global slowdown of 2008-09 which forced all automakers to cut back on investments.
Nassif and his team then began the ‘step-by-step’ approach to rebuilding an India presence for the Renault brand. The lessons learnt from the Logan setback were critical especially when it came to thinking local for global needs. This paved the way for a strong local R&D and engineering base to keep costs in check.
The first round of product launches like the Fluence and Koleos did not set the sales charts afire and neither did the Pulse and Scala. However, the heady market response to the Duster boosted Renault’s presence in the SUV space and soon India became a hot contender for its top 15 markets worldwide — it has since climbed to the fifth place in 2021 while Morocco has also moved up to No 9.
Nassif wrapped up his India tenure just when the company was preparing for its next big thing in the form of the Kwid compact car which also took off with a bang. The company has moved on with successful offerings like Triber and Kiger even while Kwid continues to clock modest numbers.
“I love India and it was so fantastic to be part of a turnaround story,” said Nassif, who had his home in Puducherry near Chennai. It was also in India that he became passionately involved with Iyengar Yoga which he continued zealously during his Morocco years and is ”now part of my routine”.
Fabrice Cambolive appointed Renault COO