Enthused by the global success of its sub-4-metre Kwid, French car maker Renault is set to make India a hub not only for manufacturing but also for design and development.
Kwid was initially designed, developed and manufactured in India and later exported to the world market.
Speaking to Business Standard after launching the company's first Design Academy in India to foster fresh talent in car design at Chennai, Patrick Lecharpy, vice-president (Advanced Design) and head of Renault Design India Studios, said India remained one of the important markets for Groupe Renault. According to Renault's global strategy, India would play an important role in Groupe Renault's expansion plans, he said. "India is the strategic and future market for us."
After the success of Kwid, India will be the hub not only to manufacture small cars but also to research and design for the flobal market.
"Kwid has to be one of the most exciting low-cost design innovations to come out in years. The Kwid, despite being a low-cost car, looks like an attractive SUV," he said.
The Indian design centre of Renault played a crucial role in developing this product, a major growth driver for Renault in India. A large part of the success was attributed to sourcing of local components which allowed Renault to launch the car at Rs 256,000 in September 2015. So far, the company has sold 130,000 Kwids in the country.
The result was an aggressively priced car with localisation of about 98 per cent at launch.
The product helped the company grow its presence in India and become one of the youngest and fastest-growing automotive brands, and the number one European brand. The company's market share at the end of 2016 rose to 4.5 per cent, a robust three-digit growth over 2015.
The success of Kwid gave the company an understanding of what Indian customers really meant when they said they wanted more for the money they are paying, said Lecharpy.
The current trend in the Indian market is that the for sub-4-metre vehicle segment is leading ahead.
Renault will develop its future range of products for the Indian market while keeping this in mind. This is one of the reasons for launching a Design Academy in India. The objective is to better understand the evolving changes and preferences of the Indian customer.
At present, Renault Design India is closely working with Renault Design France, Korea, Romania, Brazil Studios for various projects, including Exterior & Interior Design, Color and Material & Trends, Digital Modelling, Manual Modelling and Design Management etc.
Currently the company has two Renault Design Studios in India with 15 people in Mumbai and 35 people in Chennai Studio. The new Renault Design Academy would hire more talent to further expand company's Studio Capabilities in India.
Renault has started with a few hundred Engineers in 2008 and today it has around 5000 engineering staff and 35 designers in Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre (RNTBCI), Chennai.
"We have been growing in India because of the potential of the dynamic automobile market and we will continue to hire more people to expand our facilities," said Lecharpy.