Japanese car maker Nissan plans to develop its first 'made-in-India' car in the next 5-6 years, and enhance the R&D centre at Chennai by doubling the strength of engineers to around 4,000 people. "Our plan is to enhance the capability of our R&D centre. Once we will have complete testing facilities, we will have the potential to develop the platform and will be able to roll out a vehicle indigenously from our R&D centre in Chennai," NMIPL Managing Director and CEO Takayuki Ishida told PTI here.
Besides, the company's wholly-owned subsidiary Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd (NMIPL) said it is "rectifying" some of the issues related to its association with distribution and service partner Hover Automotive India (HAI) after witnessing "some unrests" from a section of dealers.
The company is planning to develop a car for the Indian market in the next 5-6 years, Ishida said. "Engineers will be gradually hired every year depending upon number of platforms we want to develop and synergies with our global research centres. The R&D manpower should be double or more than double in the next 5-6 years," he said.
Nissan has an R&D centre in Chennai along with its global alliance partner Renault. The Renault-Nissan Technology and Business Centre India (RNTBCI) has 3,600 people working in key areas of advanced research and development, advanced computer aided engineering and product development. Of these, Nissan alone has around 2,000 people working for developing various aspects of a vehicle.
When asked about the focus for the R&D centre, Ishida said: "The priority will obviously be to develop products for the Indian market. The centre will also work for other market in association with our other global research centres... We are still at initial planning stages."
Last week, the company had said the Indian R&D unit will play a significant role in developing the 'Datsun' brand, expected to be launched by 2014 in the country. Renault-Nissan has a manufacturing plant in Chennai. Nissan rolls out three models from the plant, compact car Micra, sedan Sunny and multi utility vehicle Evalia from the plant. It also sells another sedan Teana, sports utility vehicle X-Trail and sports car 370Z as imported vehicles.
When asked about the company's sales and its association with HAI, Ishida said: "Dealer unrest at some locations affected us. The distribution affected our sales. Currently we are rectifying these." He, however did not elaborate on what kind of unrests the company faced from the dealers.
"We know that we are not 100% perfect. In operations, we need to rectify. At this moment, we are trying to utilise our dealers and optimise the output," Ishida said. The company, at present, is not considering severing ties with HAI, which is the sole and exclusive distributor to operate sales, after-sales service, parts, marketing, training and dealer development for the entire Nissan range of products in the country.
Ishida said the company is expanding its dealer network to 100 by the end of this year, up from 85. Asked about various complaints regarding after-sales by HAI, he said: "In the early stage of this fiscal, we had some supply and process related issues. We took quick action and now it is almost close to industry benchmark level."
Talking about sales, Ishida said NMIPL is looking to close the current fiscal by selling 50,000 units, with around 50% increase in sales. "For the next fiscal, our plan is to sell one lakh units," he added.