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Renault to launch premium hatch in 2012

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French car maker Renault expects to launch a "made-for-India" premium hatchback in early 2012 to compete with the country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki's small car Swift, a top executive said on Tuesday.

The car will be showcased in the Delhi Auto Show in January, and is part of the company's goal of launching five models in India by next year, Executive Vice-President Philippe Klein, who is visiting New Delhi, said.


The car maker launched its first independent model -- the Fluence sedan -- in the world's second-fastest growing auto market last month and said it expected to sell 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2013.

Renault and partner Nissan signed an agreement with Bajaj Auto, India's second largest two-wheeler maker, last year to manufacture an ultra low-cost car for India and other emerging markets and had planned to launch it in 2012.

Renault executives on Tuesday said they were unable to comment on a potential marketing partnership as they were yet to see the product. The car would rival Tata Motors' Nano, the world's cheapest car.

Renault is doubling capacity at its plant in Tamil Nadu to 400,000 by end-2012 and has committed an investment of Rs 4,500 crore ($1 billion) for the plant, which will roll out the five models beginning with Fluence.