Dealer preparation for new models to begin immediately; next major investment will be in customer experience; there will also be better brand distinction between Nissan and Renault SUVs and EVs in India.
As is already known, the Renault Nissan Alliance is to launch six new made-in-India models starting from 2025, as part of a Rs 5,300 crore) investment. However, in the lead up to that, Nissan India will also be shoring up its dealer network and service centres to prepare for the new launches. Moreover, the Japanese brand acknowledged the need for an update to not just the product line-up, but the brand itself.
At a media roundtable following the investment announcement, Ashwani Gupta, COO of Nissan Motor Corporation, responded to Autocar India’s question regarding aftersales, acknowledging the work of the current dealer network to sustain operations with essentially just one product – the Magnite. “We are very thankful to our dealer investors who have continued to support Nissan in the last years,” he said. “And especially when we have one main product today; with that one product, they have sustained and continued their support.”
Gupta also said that though the first of the newly announced models would only be introduced two years from now, preparation of the dealer network would start right away. “We are working together with them for the next level of the relationship. I will be there tomorrow morning to discuss with the dealer body that with these new products – the two SUVs and one EV – how the Nissan dealers will move forward.”
Next big investment to be in customer experience
While the aforementioned Rs 5,300 crore investment will go entirely into developing the six products (three Nissans, three Renaults) and upgrading the Alliance’s Tamil Nadu plant to produce them, the next round of investment will go to enhancing the customer experience.
“When you look at human-machine interface (HMI), when you look at connectivity, when you look at advanced technology, this is where we want to shift, so, our next investment will be more on customer experience,” Gupta said. He also acknowledged that aftersales is an area that fits in with this, and that integrating future tech is also something Nissan will have to work with dealers to achieve.
“Of course, aftersales is part of the customer experience, not only at the time of sale of the vehicle, but customer experience as a lifelong engagement, which includes aftersales and service, especially the subscription services, the mapping, the apps and so on. This is where we want to move forward and that's where we want to work with dealer bodies to invest for the future.”
Creating more individualistic brand identities
While the Renault-Nissan Alliance has taken the badge engineering route in India in the past, with the likes of the Sunny/Scala, Micra/Pulse and Duster/Terrano, that won’t be the case with the upcoming models, even though they will be split three to each brand and compete with one another. The idea here is to create even stronger and more individualistic brand identities for both brands, which is something that was kicked off with the Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger.
“What we have demonstrated with the Magnite [is] that even with one product, which is just covering 15 percent of the total market, we are still moving with 1-1.5 percent market share. This has only happened because we have created the brand step by step,” Gupta said. “And I think with these three new products for Nissan, we will take the brand to the next level.”
He also acknowledged that while new products have come in, the brand itself has seen some stagnation, which is something that needs to change. “I think we have gone through a different product lifecycle, but also the brand lifecycle in the last 13 years. Yes, the brand will need it.”
Learnings from CBU models to help shape brand Nissan
Not very long ago, Nissan showcased the X-Trail, Qashqai and Juke SUVs in India, which are in different stages of evaluation or launch readiness for our market.
In addition to this, Nissan is using these as a brand dipstick to see what customers want from the brand in India, and learnings from these CBU SUVs will directly shape the new made-in-India products coming from 2025 onwards.
“Normally, when we do the testing of the cars in India, these are more for customer clinic and more for understanding what customer is aspiring for,” Gupta said. “And we did that with the Qashqai and the Juke, and that's where we will take all the inputs [from] and put it on all these C-Segment cars.”
Unlike Alliance partner Renault that has three models on sale to carry it through to the new product onslaught in 2025, Nissan is currently soldiering on with just a single model – the Magnite. As a result, it will rely on CBU models like the X-Trail to keep its flag flying in customers’ minds in the interim, while measures like improving the dealer network and aftersales are encouraging to say the least.
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