Nissan India CEO talks about future plans and take on Indian market

We got ourselves an exclusive interview with Mr. Kenichiro Yomura, President of Nissan India Operations, Managing Director and CEO and Mr. Chikuya Takada, Head of Product Planning, General Manager, Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd.; in Port Blair – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, during the media drive for new Sunny. Here is some information about Nissan’s future plans and take on Indian market.

2015 Nissan Sunny Facelift 01 logo badgeNissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd. (NMIPL) combined forces with Hover Automotive India Pvt. Ltd. (HAIPL) in 2008 to manage marketing, sales and distribution of Nissan vehicles in India. The deal was terminated by Nissan earlier this year, and NMIPL took over sales, marketing and distribution of vehicles and parts in India. Cars of Datsun brand is also under the responsibility of Nissan, for sales and distribution.

Following assumption of distribution role, Nissan inaugurated a 4.8 lakh sq. ft. after-sales Parts Distribution Centre (PDC) in Sriperumbudur, Chennai, to establish a hub-and-spoke parts distribution model. Through this facility, Nissan drastically improved on dispatching parts throughout the expanse of the country. Similar PDC will be opened up in other parts of the country, Mr. Yomura said.

Mr. Kenichiro Yomura, President of Nissan India Operations, Managing Director and CEO 01 rushlane interviewThus far, Nissan has 120 dealership outlets in India. Mr. Kenichiro Yomura mentioned that Nissan will have a total of 200 dealerships here, by the end of current fiscal (2014-15) and the number will become 300 by the end of 2015-16 financial year, almost triple the existing spread of showrooms across the country.

As far as Nissan’s products are concerned, we asked if the company has plans of introducing AMT in their existing or upcoming cars. Mr. Chikuya Takada acknowledged the grand success of Maruti Celerio AMT. He commented on Celerio AMT’s grabbing of enormous market share and about its extensive waiting period.

But he mentioned that when it comes to fuel efficiency, AMT technology may deliver on par with manual transmission, but Nissan’s CVT technology will give better mileage than manual transmission version. He quoted new 2015 Nissan Sunny’s claimed mileage of 17.97 kmpl achieved in petrol CVT variant against 16.95 kmpl in petrol Manual Transmission variant. Mr. Takada indicated that Nissan believes in CVT Automatic being more suitable for Indian market, also quoting the fact that CVT does not induce gear shift shock like AMT does.

Mr. Chikuya Takada, Head of Product Planning, General Manager, Nissan Motor India 01 rushlane interviewWe asked Mr. Kenichiro Yomura and Mr. Chikuya Takada if they are happy with the sales performance of Datsun Go, which has sold about 7,000 units till date, since its launch on March 19, 2014. They said that they expect much better numbers. Mr. Takada added that market penetration and customer understanding of Datsun brand needs to be nourished from dealers’ end.

Then we went on to talk about about hardcore SUV segment, if Nissan would bring a Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Mahindra Ssangyong Rexton competitor to India. Since Nissan Navara pickup was launched in Thailand recently, we discussed if the company will develop an SUV on the same platform, for India. Mr. Takada replied that for now, Nissan is more focussed on Terrano, and may introduce 4×4 option, considering market interest in 4×4 and sales performance of upcoming Renault Duster 4×4.

Speaking about the launch of Fiat 500 Abarth, BMW 1 Series, Mercedes Benz A CLass and B Class in India, it led to the question of Nissan bringing Juke to India. Mr. Kenichiro Yomura and Mr. Chikuya Takada responded that they feel Indian customers are more fond of cars with better interior space, and since Juke is a small and sporty hatchback, they will have to wait till they study the possibility of Juke in India.

On a note of conclusion, we believe Nissan will be betting safe in India, and focus on very specific audience for each car. Nissan’s prime focus on cars for India seems to be about decent engine performance, good ride quality, premium interior design and significant cabin room. The question comes to volume of Indian customers who will be looking just for what Nissan offers. Will the number be enough for the company?

Further read – 2015 Nissan Sunny Facelift Drive Review – Caaaar respelled