Mumbai to be design hub for Renault’s ultra low-cost car

Paris based auto major Renault has chosen India to provide a larger role in designing its ultra low-cost car that it is developing with two-wheeler major Bajaj Auto, as a growing interest in economical cars in emerging markets drives the plans of most auto majors. This is a marked departure from Renault’s previous plans when such assignments were evenly spread across the company’s other centres globally.Till now, if Renault had to develop any new product all the design centres across the world would work at it and Paris would take a final call. Since it’s the first time that Renault is developing an ultra low-cost car in India, it has decided that Mumbai’s design centre will provide the main design framework, with other design centres across the world providing smaller inputs for the ULC. The Nissan design team is also understood to be providing inputs on designing the small car.A team of 10-12 Indian designers are working on the small car with Pankaj Jhunja as head of the design centre and Ajay Jain as chief designer. While these designers were working from a makeshift facility till date, the new high-security design facility in Mumbai is scheduled to be inaugurated on September 24. The ULC will not be positioned on price alone as Bajaj Auto has always maintained that it’s not after the cheapest car price tag. While it will be competitively priced, its focus will be more on fuel economy and emission standards. The JV will try and maintain the pricing in the range of $2,500 to $3000. In June, Bajaj-Renault-Nissan announced a joint venture for the ULC project to be 50% owned by Bajaj Auto and 25% each by Renault and Nissan. Currently discussions are on for product portfolio, engine displacement, branding, distribution channels and export plans. The alliance will cover an entire portfolio of products from cars to multi-purpose vehicles. The ULC will be made in Chakan in Maharashtra with an initial capacity of 4-lakh units per year and sales are expected to start early 2011 in India. While India sales will be the main focus area, the JV will also explore export opportunities in other emerging markets. Renault already has a JV with utility and tractor major Mahindra & Mahindra to make the Logan, an entry-level mid-size sedan.

No comments: