The Indian unit of Nissan Motor, the automaker from Japan, is gearing up to increase its volume of exports two-fold as its Chennai plant is being revamped to produce 4 lakh annual vehicle units by March this year from its current capacity of producing 2 lakh vehicle units. This has been revealed by the CEO and Managing Director of Nissan Motor in India, Kiminobu Tokuyama in an interaction with the media at Kolkata this Friday.
The automaker from Japan presently has a share of 1 percent in the domestic auto market of India as per figures obtained in January end, 2012. The company also expects that it will be selling around 40,000 vehicles in the Indian market in the present financial year. It has, however, set itself a target of touching the magic figure of 1 Lakh units of vehicle sales in the Indian domestic auto market within the financial year 2013-14.
The increase in production capacity that is going to touch a figure of 3 Lakh yearly units from the month of March will be used by Nissan for exporting to European, African and Middle-East markets. Tokuyama has, however, stressed that the main focus of the company is to strengthen its presence in the Indian domestic market.
A Latest Small Car from Nissan:
The interaction of Tokuyama with the media was taking place on the occasion of launching Chandrani Nissan, which is the first dealership set up by the company in the state of West Bengal. During the session, it was also revealed that Nissan is making plans of offering a small car in the entry level category, which is going to offer competition to cars like Maruti Alto. According to Tokuyama, this new car is presently being conceptualized. Nissan is planning to offer this car at a price that will be the lowest compared to all vehicles that it is presently offering in the Indian market. Presently, the Micra hold this status at a pricing that is slightly greater than Rs.4 Lakh.
It has to be noted here that the plans of Nissan of developing a very low costing car for the Indian domestic market had also been announced by Nissan with the aim of competing with Tata Nano. Nissan was planning to collaborate with its partner from France, Renault SA to develop this car. It had even collaborated with the second largest two wheeler making company from India, Bajaj Auto, for this purpose. However, the possibility of developing this car now appears a distant possibility as the Auto Expo held in New Delhi has seen Bajaj unveil its self-developed ultra-low cost vehicle, the RE60. Bajaj has, however, mentioned that Renault and Nissan are both going to be involved in the production process of this car.
Nissan officials were not very willing to answer any questions regarding the present status of this partnership as well as the present status of this car when representatives of the media questioned them about the same this Friday. They are maintaining a stand that the RE60 is a vehicle that has been exclusively designed by Bajaj Auto and refused to speak further on where the alliance stands presently.
Launch of Evalia by the month of December:
Nissan has, however, said that its tie-up with the second largest makers of commercial vehicles in India, Ashok Leyland, has proven to be very successful. The automaker has expressed great satisfaction at the shape that this joint venture, started in 2008, is taking. The two companies had combined to launch their first vehicle in September 2011.
Dost, which is the first light weight commercial figure that the two companies has developed, has proven to be very successful and is reported to have exceeded sales targets that the companies had set. The next vehicle that this partnership is going to come out with is the Evalia, which is expected to be launched within December 2012, as per Tokuyama.
The Evalia, which was first revealed at the Auto Expo held at Delhi in January 2012, is going to be a towering Multi Purpose Vehicle that is going to have the capacity to comfortably accommodate seven passengers. Sliding doors has been provided on this vehicle and it is expected that production of this MPV is going to start from August end. Nissan expects that this car is going to give strong competition to vehicles like Toyota Innova.
An Electric Car in India:
On being quizzed on the plans of Nissan of launching its electric vehicle, the Leaf, in the Indian market, Tokuyama said that the automaker was prepared for the same but needed adequate development of infrastructure as well as support of the government for doing so. The Leaf has already proven to be very successful overseas and has even been displayed at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo. Tokuyama said that it is a very expensive exercise to manufacture electric vehicles. Hence, it requires adequate support from the government through infrastructural support like charging stations and tax incentives so that such vehicles can successfully work here. Nissan has already started conducting feasibility tests to explore whether this vehicle can work in Indian conditions.
Nissan, as an automaker, is globally recognized as the company that has been most aggressively promoting vehicles that run purely on electricity. The company has also expressed strong hopes that SIAM, which is the representative body of the Indian auto industry, is going to achieve fruitful results in its discussion with the Indian government.
As per media reports, it seems that the discussions that has been taking place for nearly a year is finally bearing some fruit with the Indian Government expected to come out with a final roadmap that is going to foster the growth of the hybrid and electric vehicle industry in India. This is expected to occur around April 2012, just after the Union Budget for 2012-13.