‘We have gone through multiple cycles over the last few years. We are now on a growth path’: Rakesh Srivastava, MD, Nissan Motor India

Nissan has prepared a country-specific business plan for India as priorities and product strategies here are different from other places globally where Nissan has a presence. Autocar Professional’s Ketan Thakkar spoke with Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Nissan Motor India to understand more.

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 20 Oct 2022 Views icon12397 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘We have gone through multiple cycles over the last few years. We are now on a growth path’: Rakesh Srivastava, MD, Nissan Motor India

What is the Move Beyond plan?
This is a new phase for Nissan in India and hence we have named it as ‘Move Beyond’.

Move Beyond is an India-specific plan. Globally, our business is in different stages in different economies. In India, we have moved on from the turnaround stage of Magnite. With the launch of Nissan Magnite, we were able to deliver a turnaround story, from the business and volumes aspect. With Move Beyond, we are talking about gaining mind share, talking about addressing different sets of customers, that is what we are intending to do with our new range of products showcase.

We have gone through multiple cycles over the last few years. We are now on a growth path.

These are global products, their global technologies have been showcased today, e-power, e-force and hybrid — these are multiple levels of electrification, before a pure electric is launched.

So, you are betting on hybrids? What about pure EVs?
We have our own strengths in EVs with Leaf and the Ariya. EVs however account for only one percent of today's passenger vehicle sales.

Many of these EVs have been developed on the ICE platform. We have two products which have been developed from the ground up — with zero accident record.

If you look at the Indian market, there have been instances where questions on the safety of EVs have come up.

In the transition from one technology application like ICE to another technology application like EVs, the market has to go through a bridge of hybrids.

Hybrid is also an electrification; then we have e-force, e-power and pure hybrid, we have demonstrated all three technologies.

Anything that addresses a cleaner and greener environment is relevant in India. That is the mission the government of India has taken, that is where it is our responsibility to contribute to that vision.

What about localisation of these models?
Localisation is an option — completely knocked down, semi knocked down and completely built up (CBU). All would depend on ensuring that the product is acceptable across various terrains, hills, coastal regions and plains. It must perform across regions.

The conditions in India are very different from other markets. First, we want to test them out and then we will take a business call based on the feedback from testing.

But these models are aimed at the top end of the market. There is a big gap between Magnite and the models you have showcased, how do you bridge it? What will be Nissan’s future focus?
The Indian market presents an opportunity from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 crore.

The volumes are largely in the Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh category and then in the Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh segment. There are also growing volumes in the Rs 20 to 40 lakh price bands.

Post pandemic, CBUs were brought in by various players and had waiting periods running into months and years. That is how the Indian customer is discerning, demanding, ever evolving, with a strong purchasing power.

Right now, we are working on the transformation, which is building a mindshare for the Nissan brand in the country and hence we are building top-of-the-line products.

We are poised very well in the Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh segment with Magnite. In every other price point, there are multiple opportunities for us with global products. Decisions will be taken in due course.

Is CNG one of the cleaner vehicle options?
Definitely, CNG is a good option, however the market challenges on CNG have increased. CNG was the most sought after two years back, but it has come down a bit of late with price increases. I still believe that CNG still has an opportunity, we will evaluate that (for Magnite).

Is Nissan profitable? How did you convince the HQ to bring in new models?
We have our own challenges on the overall profitability.

We are strongly and uniquely invested in India, compared to Nissan's investment in many other markets. Here, we have the manufacturing plant, we have the research and development facility, we have a digital hub, we have a sales company, and we have our own finance and insurance company. With such a wide footprint in the country, it gives us strength, but it also offers challenges on the returns part.

We convinced them by presenting the right business case and that has been supported by the Indian market growth story.

The Indian market is set to go back to its previous peak in FY23. This is on the back of a healthy GDP growth and on the controlled inflation compared to other economies on fuel prices and interest rates. With this strength, any and every OEM would like to be in India and build business in India.

Is it right to say, Nissan is getting ready for the next phase of investment in the country?
For us the priority is to address the domestic and exports market with the current products. And see that we are able to produce enough of them to cater to growing needs. In terms of further business plans, we will get back to you, when ready.

Demand has been very strong and there is a fear that the momentum may slow down post festival season, what are your thoughts?
There was a latent demand post covid, public mobility had safety challenges. I do believe the latent demand has been met. Now it will be about launching new products and channels and working hard to sell them.

Sales in the passenger vehicle market is directly linked to economic growth. We should look forward to growth next year, the growth rate however will be determined by the economic growth.

I believe it is still at the pull level, we are trying to ensure that we can produce as many cars as possible, still.

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