Renault-Nissan-Datsun: Negative brand re-engineering in India? – Team-BHP

13 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Renault-Nissan-Datsun: Negative brand re-engineering in India? – Team-BHP
Nissan Datsun

Renault-Nissan-Datsun: Negative brand re-engineering in India?

Renault-Nissan-Datsun: Negative brand re-engineering in India?

Whenever we have a launch with prices slightly above expectation, we get into debates on how the manufacturers are overpricing their products in the Indian market. The case gets stronger if the car in question is small and does not fit into the size-to-price factor in the VFM calculations. For example, an 8 lakh Polo GT TSI is considered expensive because it’s a hatchback.

A 20 lakhs Skoda Yeti gets a similar (or even more negative) reaction because it’s not big for an SUV.

Contrary to the above examples, the Renault Duster was one of the hot products launched in 2012. In a few months, this product single-handedly has made brand Renault a house-hold name in India, probably even more popular than the Japanese sibling Nissan. The Duster is almost everything what an Indian buyer is looking from an SUV – a no-nonsense car with good road presence, reasonably powerful and frugal, and considerably cheaper than some of the big SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner.

So popular that recently Nissan announced a Duster spin-off called Terrano. This news, along with the possibility of Dacia Lodgy coming to India as Renault Lodgy made me think – What exactly is Renault doing here?

After the takeover by Renault, the humble Romanian brand Dacia is quietly finding a foothold in the European market. The brand offer cheap motoring without compromising much on safety and comfort. And that’s the key – it’s so cheap that a competitor (with similar size and equipment level) cost more than 50% of a corresponding Dacia.

Check out the UK reviews of Dacia Duster, and all of them rave the car for what it offers for the modest price tag. Infact it’s actually way cheaper than some of the entry level European hatchbacks. Some examples** below:

**I have used the examples relevant for Indian market, with UK models slightly better on safety features (across all models)

VW Polo 75ps 1.2 TDI: Ј13,745

VW Polo 70ps 1.2: Ј12,145

Dacia Duster 110ps 1.5 dCi 4×2: Ј11,495

Skoda Yeti 110ps 2.0 TDI 4×2: Ј17,075

India (ex-showroom Mumbai)

Nissan Datsun

VW Polo 75ps 1.2 TDI: Rs. 7,27,769

VW Polo 75ps 1.2: Rs. 6,14,733

Renualt Duster 110ps dCi 4×2: Rs. 12,17,263

Skoda Yeti 110ps 2.0 4×2: Rs. 15,11,327

If you look at the above prices, in the UK a Duster with slightly better features than India’s top variant is actually cheaper than entry-level 3 cyl Polo petrol, and almost 50% cheaper than the base variant of Skoda Yeti. That’s the way brand Dacia is positioned in Europe. The picture is drastically different in the Indian context.

The Renault branded Duster cost almost double of a highline 1.2 Polo and is only around 20% cheaper than the base Yeti. In other words, the buyers in India are actually paying a huge premium for the lozenge logo.

Brand re-engineering is a common practice, and it makes sense when it happens with brands with similar profile and standards (e.g.; Vento/Rapid, Sunny/Scala etc.). But in this case what we are getting is a much cheaper Dacia, rechristened as a Nissan/Renualt at a premium price-range. In other words, a Duster/Terrano sold at a price point of better engineered Nissan Qashqai.

And in future, instead of a Renault Grand Scenic MPV, we will get a Renault Lodgy. And in the coming years we may see a flurry of launches like Renualt Sandero (and its corresponding Nissan variant). I won’t be surprised if India soon becomes the second largest market for Dacia (after Romania).

Just some food for thought!

Note . Price references are from Carbuyer UK and Carwale (for UK and India respectively)

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