Mumbai: French car maker Renault has lined up a slew of utility vehicles for launch in the Indian market, likely taking its portfolio in this segment to half a dozen by the end of the decade. The auto maker that is likely to face the biggest threat from Renault’s aggressive product plan is its former partner, Mahindra & Mahindra.
Renault, which posed the first real challenge to Mahindra’s Scorpio SUV with its Duster, has already launched the Kwid compact car with an SUV-like design, preempting Mahindra’s efforts to create a new segment with the S101 micro SUV. Renault has now set its sights on the space occupied by the Mahindra XUV500 and plans to launch a new SUV, codenamed HHA, likely in October 2017.
The vehicle, based on the globally successful Captur design, will be introduced before two compact vehicles – an SUV and an MPV – take shape on the Common Module Family-A (CMF-A) platform. In between, an all-new Duster is scheduled to hit the market in 2018.
The two vehicles on the CMF-A platform are likely to be priced between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, filling the gap between the entry-level Kwid and the new Duster and HHA. ETtalked to five people with knowledge of Renault’s product plans in India.
A Renault India spokesperson said as a policy, the company doesn’t comment on future product plans.
“The new premium SUV (HHA) is an emerging market derivative of the Captur. It is based on the Logan M0-B platform, with a highly successful European styling and it will have an all-new longer body for markets like India, Russia and Brazil, and meet the practicality of seven seats,” one of the five people said.
Since the model is based on the M0-Logan platform, it will share a lot of parts with the Duster and the Lodgy multi-purpose vehicle, helping the company enjoy from economies of scale and develop the vehicle quickly and at a lower cost.
While sales of utility vehicles fell 3% in the first half of fiscal 2016 to 2.66 lakh units, the segment was among the less affected when a major slowdown hit the auto market two years ago. The recent launch of compact soft roaders, like the Hyundai Creta and Maruti S Cross which brought in incremental numbers, and upcoming launches from Tata Motors and Maruti clearly show that the action in the segment is going to hot up.
Renault, which drove the compact urban SUV wave with Duster, had a 10% share in the utility vehicle market a few years ago. The share has shrunk to 7% now, with increased competition from Ford and Hyundai. To regain the lost market, Renault has planned to give a major facelift to Duster, including adding automatic transmission.
It is expected to be showcased at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida early next year. The utility space is clearly going to get sub-segmented with offerings right from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 2 crore, said Gaurav Vangaal, senior analyst for forecasting at IHS Automotive.
While the segment is currently going through a rough patch, he said, sales in India are likely to cross a million by 2020. He predicts compact SUVs to make up for more than half the market. In fiscal 2015, utility vehicle market posted sales of 5.3 lakh units.
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