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Renault may go solo on low-cost car
Published on 22 Jun. 2011 10:31 PM IST
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With its ambitious ultra low-cost car project with Bajaj going nowhere, French carmaker Renault on Tuesday said it could even go solo on the project as “creating new ideas is in the DNA” of the company.
Marc Nassif, head of Renault in India, said different options were available with the company to take forward its low-cost car ambitions. “We always have a lot of projects going on,” Nassif said, without elaborating further. The company is on a re-run in India after its entry shot, in partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra, ended in disaster as the sole product of the JV - the no-frills sedan Logan - failed to take off. Renault now has a strategy to get in at least 5 cars in India over the next 15 months and has begun this by launching the Fluence sedan.
Nassif, accompanied by senior officials from the French company’s global headquarters, said that the new products would be the Koleos SUV, a new hatchback (to be brought in the Maruti Swift category) and the Dacia Duster SUV.
The hatchback, which would be unveiled at the Delhi Auto Expo next year, will be the company’s first product in the mainline car segment in India. The car has been specifically designed for the Indian market by its centre in Mumbai, Nassif said.
But along with the new launches, the company remains as committed as ever to tap the “affordable” segment of the market which would fall between the Tata Nano and Rs 4 lakh bracket, Nassif said, adding that the joint project with Bajaj Auto and fellow group company Nissan was just one of the options.
Recent statements from Bajaj and Renault indicate that the partnership -- that is yet to be converted into a joint venture -- is in trouble. In May, Renault sounded non-commital on the ambitious project, saying it may pull out if the car being developed and manufactured by Bajaj will not meet its expectations.
On its part, Bajaj has said it is developing a four-wheel goods carrier (as part of the ULC project) and the same platform would be used for developing the car.
The three-company alliance has been mired in troubles from the very beginning with recurring disputes between the partners. The companies had initially planned to work out a rival to the Tata Nano with much fanfare, but differences in approach have seen the project hanging in limbo since 2008, when they had originally decided to get together.

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