Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Renault Showcar 6

Since the time Renault officially made its entry into the Indian market, the company has only grown from strength to strength. Today, it is one of the strongest players in all the segments that it offers products in. Not surprising since an innovative and cutting-edge product line up has always been Renault’s specialty.

Renault’s India chapter is filled with familiar names such as DUSTER, KWID and TRIBER – all of which hold special places in the hearts of car enthusiasts. India has always been a very important market for Renault. Globally, it is one of the top ten markets in the world for the company in terms of cumulative sales. In fact, the KWID, which was first launched in India and is exported to several countries from their manufacturing facility here, is one of the group’s top selling cars globally.

But, as it has been the case with all other car-makers, 2020 came around with its own set of challenges. With the threat of COVID-19 looming large, Renault too has had to adapt. And since stakeholders have always been the company’s priority, the second quarter of the year (April-June) has been about safeguarding the interests of employees, customers, dealers and the community at large.

For a company that puts a lot of focus on creating lasting personal relationships with stakeholders, mitigating risk of infection while maintaining this personal touch was a priority. But Renault met this challenge head on. Safety protocols were put into place at all sales and service touch points to reduce the risk for stakeholders. Coming out of the lockdown, the dealerships and service centres were opened in a phased manner in accordance to these protocols.

The dealerships and service centres themselves were constantly monitored and sanitised by dealership teams and so were the cars – including those that were used for test drives. In addition to this, the staff adhered to social distancing protocols and regulations. This practice still continues towards ensuring a safe experience for the prospects and customers.

An online booking service was activated by which customers would book their new cars on the Renault website as well as through the MyRenault app. Test drives and new car deliveries were done at the customers’ homes as an additional safety measure and customers were also given additional two months of extended support for their vehicles if they could not avail of their free services due to the lockdown.

Additionally, Renault also created the “Welcome Back” initiative as the markets started opening up post lockdown. Together with attractive offers, “Welcome Back” provided customers with a host of services to ease their worry.

All of these proactive measures that the company put into place started reflecting in their sales numbers as India started resuming operations. The company sold 6,422 and 8,060 units respectively in July and August 2020 which was a 75.5% and 41% growth over the numbers it sold in the same months during 2019. And this upward trend continued over the next months with September posting 8,805 units and October posting 11,005 units as sales numbers.

Along with its stakeholder-first approach in the face of the pandemic, Renault has also strived to achieve higher levels of localisation. This is something that the company has always held close to its heart. Today, Renault is proud to claim that it has achieved 80-90% localisation across its product line. The benefits of this are three fold. Firstly, it helps generate indirect revenue and employment through business to local component manufacturers. Secondly, it reduces the overall cost of the manufacturing process, a benefit that can be passed on to the end customer helping make cars more accessible. Finally, it also gives India a competitive advantage in export markets. This last part is especially important considering cars such as the KWID and TRIBER are already being exported from India to South Africa and other African and ASEAN countries.

Another sign of the significant growth that Renault has been having in India is its widespread dealer network. Renault currently has more than 415 sales outlets across the country. Together with this, Renault has more than 475 service outlets that include over 200 Workshop on Wheels locations. Renault has added close to 100 new sales and service facilities this year.

Venkatram Mamillapalle, Country CEO & Managing Director, Renault India Operations, says, “We have a thorough business strategy for this dynamic automotive market. This is reflected by our robust product enhancement strategy, our rapid network expansion and fervent efforts to ensure customer delight. Although we are cautious given the current situation, it is encouraging to see that we are attracting new dealers in these times, as well as getting more investments and expansion requests by existing partners. This is enabling us to expand our presence to cater to more customers in metro cities as well as emerging tier II-IV cities across the country.”

But one of the most exciting things about Renault this year is the upcoming launch of the their new B-SUV – Renault KIGER. Built on the CMFA+ platform that’s already in use on the TRIBER, Renault KIGER promises to make a strong presence in the compact SUV segment. Like Renault did with the KWID, DUSTER and TRIBER, The KIGER too will be launched in India first, following which it will make its way to other parts of the world.

KIGER is based on the KIGER show car that was recently unveiled by Renault. But unlike a lot of other show cars that we see these days, Renault says that, in the journey from concept to production, the HBC has retained 80% of all the elements from the KIGER show car. What makes it even more special for Renault India is that KIGER was designed as a collaborative effort between the Corporate design teams in France and the Renault India design team.

The design hints of a more dynamic & attractive urban SUV with enough ruggedness that makes it capable for all the weekend adventures one can dream up, as well as weekday commute. The styling itself is unmistakable and truly distinctive – something that has become a bit of a Renault trademark now. The SUV will get a new an all-new turbocharged engine with latest technologies. Renault says that the car will offer an exciting driving experience thanks to its high performance, modern and efficient powertrain. They have also promised that the KIGER will come loaded with a host of smart features that will make for an engaging experience, and will be available in 2-pedal transmission option as well.

“Renault KIGER is our all-new B-SUV which will stand out as an attractive, smart and exciting offering from Groupe Renault. We are delighted to announce that the global launch of Renault KIGER will be in India, after which it will be launched in other markets across the world. After KWID and TRIBER, Renault KIGER is the third global car from Groupe Renault to be launched in India first, followed by other markets. In line with our strategy for India, Renault KIGER will exemplify disruptive innovation. It will be launched in the B-segment which accounts for more than 50% of the total industry sales, thereby enabling us to grow our presence across the country. In a short span of time, Renault has already crossed the 6,50,000 sales milestone in India and we look forward to continue on this progressive journey with Renault KIGER”, says Mr. Mamillapalle.

With their commitment to excellence and their consistent effort to deliver the best to their stakeholders, Renault seems to have taken the worst that this year has thrown at them and come out on top. And with so much more already in the works, the future is looking especially bright at Renault India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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