'The Datsun Redigo is a simple city car.’
Gérard Detourbet, managing director, Alliance A-Segment development unit, talks to Sumantra B Barooah about the creation of the Datsun Redigo and the commonalisation strategy of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Gérard Detourbet, managing director, Alliance A-Segment Development Unit, talks to Sumantra B Barooah about the creation of the Datsun Redigo and the commonalisation strategy of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
The Datsun Redigo and Renault Kwid share the same platform but have different characters. How would you, the 'father' of the CMF-A platform, define them?
The Kwid is difficult to define, but the Redigo is easy. It’s a simple city car. It’s easy to drive, the driving position allows you to see all around, you sit above everyone and clearly, you see better what’s happening around you. It is smaller than the Kwid, taller than the Kwid, and the ability to see in traffic is much better than the Kwid. The Kwid is more modern for the world and say, medium distance, but the Redigo is more confident to drive in the city, and that is its main characteristic.
What’s the percentage of commonality between the two in terms of parts?
Both cars were developed simultaneously. So there’s a lot of commonality, In fact, everything that the customer doesn’t get to see, like the engine, gearbox, chassis and sub-frame components are common. Even the seats share a lot of common parts even though they don’t look the same due to the styling.
Commonality will be over 50 percent even though the upper body is completely different. All the steel components are completely different, and are done differently. But here, the commonality is very important, but more than commonality, what’s important is the conception, rather, the difficulty in conception, because all the structures are done at the same time for both cars, and are shared between the two cars. So the cost of development and overall investment is very low.
So overall, when you take in the body and everything, commonality is over 50 percent?
Yes, especially when you talk about investment and development costs, the car that you see is less expensive than the car that you don’t see. That’s where we can share the cost between the two cars 50-50.
How many suppliers do you have that are exclusive to Redigo?
About 60-70 who are producing parts for the Redigo. We have 3 categories of suppliers. First, those who produce the same parts for both the cars, second are those who aren’t procuring the same parts but two different parts. In fact we buy from one supplier for both the Kwid and the Redigo, but the parts are not common. So the supplier is common, but not the part, but sometimes the line for producing the component is common but the production process is the same.
The third category is where one supplier’s producing for the Kwid and the other for the Redigo. From the beginning, we have tried to reduce the number of suppliers and when you have one car that’s longer than the other, it’s easier to balance the two if you have only one supplier.
In all, how many suppliers do you have for the CMF-A platform?
For all the big components together, we have over 200 suppliers. We’ll have many more for the smaller components too.
At Auto Expo 2016, you showcased potential future derivatives of the Kwid, and also the 1.0-litre engine. Is that there for the i2 also?
That you’ll have to ask the brand leader, but it is clear that nothing could be prohibited. The platform is very flexible and what you do for one body can be done with the other body. It depends on the marketing and what you want to do with the car. Probably Datsun don’t want to do another Kwid. Maybe they have their own specificities and brand development and the idea is not to copy. But we have something in the shelf. If they want to take it, they can.
Have you started working on your third child on the CMF-A platform?
In fact, we are working on a lot of children! When you’re developing cars, you’re always trying to do something new. So it never stops.
We have a lot of projects, but projects could/couldn’t be finalised based on a lot of things like how you want to sell it, what’s the price, what’s the market you want to sell in. But when you’re doing cars, developing cars, you have to propose.
The way to propose is with different body and better skill within a platform. And CMF-A is a new platform and we can do a lot of things. So if you want to do pick-up, a 7-seater, or a coupe, we can do that. We aren’t doing that because it may not be profitable, may not see good volume, may not convey the right brand image. But technically speaking, it’s possible.
Has India in any way started contributing in any manner for the CMF-B platform? Because it has been the driver for the CMF-A, has it started playing a role in CMF-B?
No, the main plant for the CMF-B is in Romania, in fact, we have set up the development centre for the CMF-B/M0. In India, you’ll have cars coming in from this platform, but not developed here. We’ll introduce the car here, localise it, that’s the maximum we can do. CMF-A, on the other hand isn’t localised, but it is local. It was something developed here, and will be here for a long time.
The Redigo has the twin responsibility of propping up the Datsun brand as well as competing with the Kwid, which has already got very good acceptance. What were the challenges you faced when you developed the i2 (Redigo)?
In fact, the i2 is different, as the 2SDU team that is the team that is developing the platform for the two parts of the Alliance, Renault and Nissan, which also includes the Datsun brand. I got a request from two companies to make two cars with maximum commonalisation, because we wanted to reduce cost per car. At the same time, Datsun gave me the type of car they wanted to do. The styling was done in Japan. I have done nothing with the styling. I have done the car with that styling.
The Kwid was a bit different because I was in charge of everything including styling. It was a little bit complex in the beginning, because on one side, I had all the decision making for the Kwid, and for the Redigo, I have to do what they wanted.
With the Kwid, I did what I wanted. But the principle is the same, you need to fulfill two equals coming from product planning and you have to help two companies achieve what is in equation with the market or with the brand image you want to give and with the car you want to create.
With Datsun, we had to be careful that there’s not much similarity with the Go. With the Kwid, we had no constraints at all. So it was a little bit different. But as a team, we tried to respect what the heads of office from Renault and Nissan said we had to do. And that’s just execution, which you try to do best, with good speed, low cost, and good commonality and things like that and respecting what you’ve been asked, and in the end, something that isn’t very complex. Because when you’re defining a part, you’re not defining it as one being a Renault and the other being a Nissan.
You had said that like the M0 platform (Logan platform), you’d like to see the CMF-A platform produce over a million cars per year.
I’m always foreseeing the volume because globally, with the addition of Nissan and Renault, one million is not so difficult to achieve.
In how much time?
I said 5 years (from the time of the launch of Kwid).
Also read: Test drive report of the Datsun Redigo
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