Renault India, which is gradually upping the ante in the SUV market with its recently launched seven-seat Triber, is plotting new moves to accelerate its growth and also market share.
The Chennai-based carmaker, which has sold 57,712 units in the first eight months of FY2020 (8.49%), is set to drive into the fiercely contested compact SUV segment, albeit one which continues to flourish despite the ongoing downturn. It also helps that SUVs continue to be the darlings of the passenger vehicle segment. It is the sole sub-segment within PVs to record growth in the April-November 2019 period (3.82%) and with 640,311 units, accounts for 34% of the overall PV market (1,882,051). A year ago, SUVs accounted for 27% and in better market conditions. Renault India has, between April-November 2019, more than doubled its UV market share to 3.97% from 1.58% a year ago.
As reported by Autocar Professional on December 26, Renault India is planning a flurry of new product launches. Speaking at the commencement of Renault Triber exports to South Africa, Venkatram Mamillapalle, Country CEO & Managing Director, Renault India Operations, said: "By the end of the first quarter next year, we will be introducing a new variant of the Triber, which will be followed by the AMT variant later. Going forward, we want to work 360 degrees on the Triber. This will be our focus on the first six months, next year. Then, we will be launching a new sub-4-metre SUV in 2020 and an EV later. We need to have space between each launch and it will be one launch each year."
Coming from the Renault India chief, this makes the India launch of the Renault HBC compact SUV official. To be built on Renault-Nissan’s CMF-A+ platform, the HBC compact SUV will borrow heavily from the Triber, but will also sport a unique, distinctive design and an upright, more SUV-like stance. On the inside, too, the HBC is expected to have plenty in common with the seven-seat Triber, and while it probably won’t have the innovative three-row layout and modularity of the Triber, the Renault HBC should be pretty spacious for its class.
New 3-cyl, 1.0L turbo-petrol to power compact SUV
According to Autocar India, the Renault HBC sub-four-metre SUV will be powered by an all-new, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine codenamed ‘HR10’. Limitations with French carmaker's CMF-A+ platform mean the Renault HBC can only accommodate a three-cylinder engine but on the plus side, the compact engine bay means Renault can carve out even more interior space, something that’s at a premium in most sub-four-metre vehicles and a surplus of which will definitely be appreciated by compact SUV buyers.
Essentially a three-cylinder version of the 1.3-litre, four-cylinder ‘HR13’ turbo-petrol, the 1.0-litre engine is expected to develop close to 95hp, which will give it the power to take the fight to its established compact SUV rivals like the Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue and Tata Nexon. Gearbox options are likely to include a 5-speed manual and an AMT.
The HBC compact SUV is the first in the slew of new models Renault plans to introduce in India, and will also be the basis for Nissan’s upcoming compact SUV. More importantly, the Renault HBC will likely spice up the fight in the compact SUV segment with its aggressive price-tag.
While diesels currently account for a big chunk of sales in the compact SUV space, 2020 could witness buyer preference shift to petrol power in a big way, with the segment leader, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, set to be a petrol-only model.
Maruti Suzuki is optimistic about the petrol Brezza fully replacing the diesel volumes, and with petrol versions of the Tata Nexon and Hyundai Venue seeing strong demand, the Renault HBC’s arrival will further grow the petrol compact SUV space.
Also read: Renault India plans e-mobility drive from 2021, one new ICE model every year