Guillaume Sicard, president - Nissan India Operations, speaks on brand Datsun, why he is game for an NCAP test for the Redigo, and getting ready to introduce the X-Trail Hybrid.
Nissan, through Datsun, is taking another crack at the entry-level passenger car market in India with the new Redigo. Guillaume Sicard, president - Nissan India Operations, spoke to Shourya Harwani on brand Datsun, why he is game for an NCAP test for the Redigo, and getting ready to introduce the X-Trail Hybrid.
You have clearly focused on the Redigo’s value proposition and its low maintenance costs. How does it fare against competition in this aspect?
The Redigo’s cost of maintenance is 32 percent lower than the most expensive competitor in the segment. The aftersales team calculated the maintenance cost for 50,000km and compared it with the rival. Our cost is around Rs 10,400 for 50,000km in terms of maintenance, which is very competitive and cheapest in the segment.
You have also highlighted the Redigo’s safety aspects and are offering something called Datsun Pro Safe as standard. What does this system constitute and how does it improve the car’s safety?
When we started working on the Redigo in Japan, a very important thing for us was that we wanted to bring the best of safety features, including active safety, in this car. In terms of active safety, we focused on aspects like reducing the braking distance and improving the grip on the road through a better suspension setup.
In terms of passive safety features, we focused on the safety shell of the car, which is extremely robust, with reinforcements and we surpass the current safety norms prevalent in India. Another important safety feature is the driver airbag with a collapsible column, which will reduce the impact on the driver. So we have a comprehensive system, which helps in improving the safety of the occupants of the car.
Let me be clear here that we are still at the lower end of the spectrum in the Indian car market, but in this context what you get in terms of safety on the Redigo is the best that you can get in India.
Will you be open to a voluntary test by Global NCAP, given you have incorporated better safety features on the Redigo?
We are open to testing. NCAP will anyway test the car now that it is launched and we are confident that we will meet the regulations. We have already crashed the car (as per Indian regulations) so I know the results, but cannot disclose them now.
What is your area of focus for India and what would be Nissan India’s strategy going forward?
We have a very big challenge in India because we don’t have to develop one brand like other global OEMs. It’s two. It’s like raising two kids at the same time, with the same care and the same love I would say. If you look at Nissan, it will develop as a large brand in India over the next five to 10 years. What you will see from Nissan in India would be global products. Whatever we sell in countries like the US, Japan or Latin America, you will see them in India, but with some constraints obviously as we cannot import and have to manufacture here, so we cannot bring 10 products at the same time.
However, we will manufacture the best of Nissan global here. We will bring some CBUs as well and would also evolve to the SKD format for some vehicles. We are initiating the process because we are going to launch as soon as possible the X-Trail Hybrid and the GTR which is an icon in itself. This is one path for our growth in the country.
Another important path for our growth in terms of volume, not turnover but volume, is Datsun. With Datsun we are addressing the mass, the risers, and all the population that wants to have access to four-wheelers. If we manage to offer them a good product, good value, good design and good safety at the right price, then we can get more people from the two-wheeler market to move to four-wheelers. This is what I wish to do in India. I want to make sure that we transfer more and more two-wheeler users to four-wheelers. There is huge growth potential and we are tapping into the market with these two brands.
Obviously, it was painful in the beginning, because managing two brands in a nascent stage can get difficult. But in the next 10 years, we will see the two brands growing independently, having their own markets, own positioning, and their own development, more so for Datsun because Datsun is going to be very regional. India is among the most important markets for Datsun and will be for another 10 to 20 years at least.
Nissan is a global leader when it comes to electric vehicles and hybrids. With emission norms getting more stringent in the country, what is the roadmap for introducing affordable hybrids and EVs in India?
We are working on getting the X-Trail Hybrid to India, but then again hybrid technology is expensive and affordability does not go hand in hand with hybrids as of now. We have very good technology for electric vehicles and it could become affordable if mass produced and if we manage the cost of batteries. From a general point of view, electric is certainly the future for affordable mobility.
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