Opinion: 3 critical challenges the Duster must overcome

Renault's announcement of the Duster's comeback sparked excitement, given its significance in the midsize SUV segment in India. 

By Sergius Barretto, Autocar India  calendar 28 Jan 2024 Views icon2440 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Computer generated image used for representational purposes.

Computer generated image used for representational purposes.

Last month’s news about Renault’s intention to bring back the Duster got many excited. It’s not surprising; the Duster set the formula for, and pretty much started, the midsize SUV segment in India. It had a huge fan club and its demise was only because Renault didn’t invest in keeping it up to date. That’s changing now with the arrival of the new-gen model and while its re-entry shouldn’t be a challenge, there are a few hurdles I hope Renault does not stumble over. So here goes my letter to Renault with three hurdles they should be aware of.

Don't worry about brand equity

No matter what some marketing consultants may lead you to believe, the Duster brand still has good equity. So don’t spend much time and money on brand awareness exercises. Remember, the Duster only died because it wasn’t kept fighting fit. The brand was loved and stood for a sound product, so it can easily make a welcome comeback, unlike perhaps the Captur, whose brand value never got established at all. 

Don't skimp on features

The brand may be strong and its predecessor might have been a hit, but there’s a significantly larger playing field today. You have the Creta, Seltos, Grand Vitara, Hyryder, Kushaq, Taigun, Astor and the C3 Aircross; that’s well over half a dozen. But look at the ones that are mega hits and you’ll see they’re the ones that come very well loaded with kit. They aren’t the cheapest, or the most spacious, or the ones that drive the best. No, it’s features today that customers place higher than all else, so load up the Duster with all you’ve got, and in case this isn’t enough, get cracking right now on adding kit. Even Citroën has pushed back the upcoming C3X launch only to equip it with more features, after massive customer pushback on the C3 hatch and Aircross SUV’s scant features list.  

Bring in the strong hybrid

Yes, EVs are the future, but as it’s emerging now, even in 2030 they will only make up 30 percent of the market. That means ICE will still have the overwhelming majority, and what’s more, that 70 percent would translate to more cars than today’s entire market thanks to the overall growth. So given that you have a strong-hybrid option, bring it in. Diesel will be all but dead by then, and customers will continue to love fuel efficiency. Plus, you’ve got time to localise the tech too.

So that’s really the three key bits I think you need to be aware of. You probably know this already or are musing over this and more, but nonetheless, I thought I’d pen this to you since, as a Duster fan, I really want to see this one shine.

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