How has the response been to the Redi-Go 1.0-litre?
The Redi-Go with the 1.0-litre engine is doing really well. We’re improving the Redi-Go range step-by-step. A year ago we launched the car, which was followed by the bigger 1.0-litre version recently. The response for the car has been phenomenal so far, especially in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Soon, we’ll also launch the two-pedal AMT version of the car.
Is there a different tone of communication that’s used for the Datsun brand versus the Nissan brand?
Of course, there’s a difference. Nissan has been in the business here for many years now, while Datsun is only three years old. But despite that, Datsun is showing great potential and it’s on par with some of the other brands that have been here for over a decade. The reason behind that has been our disruptive approach. Three years ago, you didn’t have any option if you wanted a three to four lakh rupee car. It would either be a Maruti or a used car back then. But we changed that. And that’s why our target customers are youngsters. We want to tell them that you don’t have to follow the old traditional way, you can be different and opt for a modern, stylish product that’s cost effective to run as well. Try something new – that’s what we tell our customers at Datsun.
Also, we don’t differentiate between our customers. Some might say that Datsun is a cheap brand compared to Nissan, but that’s not the case. Our customers don’t think that way and wherever they come from, we treat them equally.
Going forward, what’s the main challenge for Nissan?
For Nissan, our main challenge is to come up with new offers for our customers. And these offers should exceed our customers’ expectations – be it new powertrains, new body-types, electric vehicles, or new technology inside the car – our products have to capture a customer’s imagination.
For Datsun, our aim is to make the brand more accessible. And by accessible I don’t want it to be perceived as cheap. Accessible means that the sales and service outlet should be nearby, the financing offers should be straightforward, the insurance package should be efficient, and so on. For Nissan, we want it to make more exciting in terms of technology, driving, electrification and the customer experience.
When can we expect some SUV action from Datsun and Nissan?
I can’t name any particular product, but I can tell you that we have big plans for the Indian market. And both Nissan and Datsun are working in parallel to develop new products that will suit the requirements of the Indian customer. The objective of these products will be to help us reach 5% market share in India by 2020. Since the SUV / crossover segment is booming like never before, we’re definitely planning to enter the segment with new and more capable products. But, we won’t launch an SUV or crossover just because everyone is doing that. For us, it’s very important to fully understand the needs of our customer and only then do we execute the plan. So, a SUV / crossover is definitely on the cards – not just for India, but other markets as well.
Is the X-Trail Hybrid still planned after the introduction of GST?
After GST, the taxes on hybrids have gone up – so we’re really concerned about pricing it right. We can’t launch it at a price point where the customer thinks he’s being overcharged. So, we’re waiting for the right time to launch the product – but not for the coming 3-4 months for sure.
On the other hand, GST simplifies things for customers as well as dealers. Earlier, there were different prices in different cities. But, with the introduction of GST, it’s more or less the same everywhere. One nation, one price – that works for everyone.
What are your thoughts on the Indian government’s target of 2030 for electric mobility?
It’ll be a big decision to make for sure. When you think about it, it seems difficult but you’ve got to start somewhere. Nissan will, of course, be a part of this transition – we won’t be watching the action from the side-lines. We’re leaders in electrification worldwide, and we’ve got some fantastic products – hybrids and full electric cars. The thing is, to embrace electrification of vehicles fully, you’ve to create a whole new ecosystem and infrastructure. And that’ll prove out to be a massive challenge.
There are new safety regulations that are kicking in from next year, will your current cars meet the norms?
As you know, we’ve got a big research and technical centre in Chennai, where our team of engineers are working on that. We’re well on track, and our cars will meet the new safety regulations.
What kind of response has the GT-R got in India?
The GT-R is an icon! It’s a flagship, and when we launched the product here we weren’t looking at sales numbers. It was launched solely to demonstrate that Nissan is an exciting Japanese brand and this is what we’re capable of making. So far, we’ve sold 10-15 units to some of the most dedicated customers.