It was for no reason that Nissan launched its flagship GT-R in India during the Auto Expo. In the next few years the Japanese carmaker will bring more of its global products to India.
Ideally, that is what any car manufacturer would do, but here is a piece of information that might surprise you. “Sunny and Micra will be replaced by global products,” said Guillaume Sicard, president of Nissan India.
So, by 2020, both the cars -- the Sunny sedan and the Micra hatchback -- which were used to seed the Indian market won’t be sold anymore. On the contrary, Datsun ,owned by Nissan will be for the mass market. Datsun was phased out by Nissan in 1986, and re-launched in 2013 --- that was also when the brand came into India.
Cut to Nissan, GT-R is the second true global product to come to India after the sports utility vehicle Xtrail was launched in 2007. More products from Nissan’s global portfolio will come here. There are 40 of them, and 5-6 will make their way India. “This is the direction we are taking… It is tough to manage two brands in the market,” said Sicard. After GT-R, Nissan will bring in the Xtrail Hybrid. The gap between Datsun’s top model and the Xtrail will be filled Nissan’s global models.
In the next five years there will be a clear demarcation between Datsun and Nissan --- right now both the brands are sold from the same outlet, though there are some exclusive Datsun dealerships in smaller towns. “Once we get profitability from the Datsun dealerships, we will split the brand,” said Sicard.
Micra was the first car that Nissan launched in India and later introduced the Sunny. Though the Micra received lukewarm response, Sunny sold well for the first two years after its launch.
It just seemed that Nissan will bring in more Indianised cars specific to the India market when it launched the Terrano, but the cross-badged Duster might also be phased out. But, before phasing out the Micra and the Sunny, the company will also bring in a facelift.
On the other hand Datsun has grand plans for India. It showcased the Go Cross, the mass market crossover that will come to India and the RediGO-based hatchback at the Auto Expo. “No global player gets global technology in the Rs 3-4 lakh price bracket… Datsun wants to be a dedicated carmaker for the emerging middle-class,” said Vincent Cobee, corporate vice-president at Datsun business unit. Nissan’s global CEO Carlos Ghosn wants to corner 5% of the India market, and Datsun is expected to do the trick.
One reason why Cobee is betting big on India’s middle-class is due to the emergence of a new breed of car buyers -- the pre-marry age group, who earn well and want to enjoy with friends. So far, Datsun already has two products, the GO hatchback and the GO-Plus multi-utility vehicle. The RediGo will priced lower than the GO. There is also a compact sedan in making.
To fuel growth of the Datsun brand, more dealerships will be opened --- there are 210 of them, and another 100 are scheduled to be opened by the end of 2016. Once Datsun grows out of Nissan’s shadow in India, Nissan will focus on premium dealerships, especially in the bigger cities. Existing dealerships will go for a facelift. “Two brands under the same roof was just part of the initial strategy,” said Sicard. For now Nissan will try and create a different experience for its global products, to differentiate them from Datsun.
However, Renault, which was acquired by Nissan will continue to sell Scala and Pulse -- re-badges of Sunny and Micra respectively -- and the compact SUV Duster.