Nissan Motor Company may have missed the boom in small cars in India. But the third-biggest Japanese car maker is confident of shoring up volumes, as it works on several small car projects simultaneously. Nissan executive vice-president, Andy Palmer, said the firm was targeting a substantial jump in its market share. However, Bajaj Auto may not be a part of this equation. He spoke to Swaraj Baggonkar on the company’s plans. Edited excerpts:
How do you see Nissan’s progress in India?
I’m pleased by the way things have gone for Nissan in India. Two years ago, we were there just with completely built units. And now, we have products made in this country. We have a market share of 1.5 per cent. Our longer term goal is to have an eight per cent share. So by 2016, within our mid-term plan, we should be able to achieve this. You are going to need more brand exposure to achieve this goal. We are using the halo created by our premium products to educate the Indian consumer. Nissan isn’t the same as Maruti or Toyota or Honda. We can offer huge range of vehicles to different kinds of needs. We are a company ready to work in partnership. Our partnership with Ashok Leyland has been a success. India is the growth engine of the future.
You are working with Renault and a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland for the small car?
We are not working on a single car. We are working on a number of cars, which we call price entry segments. We have the option of working with Ashok Leyland, we can do it alone because we have the expertise at the Chennai engineering centre. If we need help, we can ask Defiance Technologies (an arm of Ashok Leyland), we can work with Renault, where we can pool in our technology, and we can also work in partnership with Bajaj Auto. Clearly, we have an idea about where are the vehicles coming from. Some of the planning will fail and some will succeed. But we will have a full portfolio of vehicles in the area below Rs 4 lakh.
Bajaj has unveiled its four-wheeler. Are you going to take a call now whether to go ahead with your partnership with Bajaj?
I have not seen the vehicle, but only pictures. I know the concept. Whether it is an interesting model remains to be seen. Nissan is serious about the price entry segments. Some of the projects we are working on are riskier than others, while some are harder. Some projects might fail, while some may succeed. There is no commitment from either side.