2005, Nissan entered India with the Nissan Renault Alliance setting up a
production facility in Oragadam near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. With Nissan
completing 10 successful years in India we had a lot of questions for Nissan
India’s recently appointed President Guillaume Sicard. We asked him about the
progress of the Datsun brand in the country, the prospects of electric vehicles
in India, new launches from the Nissan stable and what we could expect from
Nissan in the near future for the Indian market. Besides, we also sought his
views on the electric Leaf, the X-Trail, Teana, and the all mighty GT-R. We caught up with him at the Nissan carnival
at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.
Kapoor; Photography: Mohd. Nasir
celebrates ten years in India; we know it’s only been about six months since
you took charge, could you tell me briefly about how Nissan’s journey has been from
your experience in India?
it has been quite an incredible journey in the last ten years. We have set up a
Research and Development Centre, we are employing 5,000 engineers. We have
implemented a plant with 8,000 people working to manufacture our cars and we
have set up a full marketing company only a year ago so it’s been quite an
adventure. Today, if you see the setup we have, we are employing directly or
indirectly 40,000 people so it has been quite an adventure for us from a
In the 2015
Union Budget, the government has given some priority to electric mobility. Nissan
Leaf has been a huge success globally, could we expect the Leaf anytime soon in
I think the Nissan Leaf which is the most sold and
manufactured car in the world with the electric technology, we would like to
bring it to India. This is one of the best cars in the world; we would really
love to have this car in India. I think we are listening to what the government
is proposing today. I think the budget has got some small announcements about
promoting the electric car so [I Say} let’s keep on working, and I would like
Nissan to definitely get involved into selling the Nissan Leaf in India.
Nissan-Renault Alliance, most of the cars from both Nissan and Renualt line up
are internally the same, like the Terrano and the Duster, the Micra and the
Pulse, the Sunny and the Scala. Is the cross badging formula working for you?
How has the response been in India and globally?
I think what is really important is that at the
beginning, everybody is learning. I think it is very important to consider that
both companies are competing independently from a marketing point of view and
both companies will be competing independently in the car point of view also. We
have a lot of things in common from a financial point of view, so a lot of
thing you will see underneath the car, like the platform, the engine, the
gearbox, are going to come into the alliance. However the body from now on will
be completely different. So you will not be able to guess anymore. But in the
automotive industry, there are many cars that are exactly the same car
underneath, have the same engine but the skin and the brand are completely
different. You know the brands I’m talking about, we are going into that
direction as well.
revived the Datsun brand a couple of years ago and in India we have the Datsun
Go and Go+, how are they doing? Are the numbers up to your expectations?
after month, the brand is picking up. It’s picking up so much that we need to
increase the production capacity at the plant in Chennai. So we are always
happy to go through those moments where we need to increase production and
capacity. The Go+ has received a phenomenal response from the market. It is
actually the first time in India that a manufacturer is launching a sub-4 metre
compact MPV with 5+2 people that you can fit inside, which is a total of 7
people, with a price that is the most affordable because it’s way below 5
lakhs. So actually it’s a very good bargain, very good offer, very good
engineering and very good technology because it’s all Japanese technology and
engineering, so it’s picking up really nicely. I’m sure in the next few months;
we will see the pace and the momentum of Datsun increasing as it has been over
the last few months.
For me they are looking good. We have
around 15,000 people driving Datsun in India, so far. The satisfaction of the
people is very high. In terms of quality there are no issues. There have been
no recalls whatsoever. It’s a new brand and a new car and we have got it right.
It’s true that it is not a very complex technology. We got it perfect. Of
course, I like to sell more. But it will take time. Why will it take time?
Nobody knows Datsun in India. We need to build on the familiarity of the
brand. We did a kind of internal survey
wherein we asked people what kind of car they will buy. A majority talked about
Maruti and Hyundai. Only 3 pc talked about Nissan. One per cent talked about
Datsun. The marketing needs to make a fantastic job now so that we are more top
of the mind. We have to find the right way of communicating. A larger network
is required in terms of points of sale and service. If you see the mass market
segment in cars, 75pc market share is held by Maruti Suzuki. Hyundai has 22 per
cent market share. The third is Datsun
with 3pc market share. I want this share moving up to 7pc very quickly. It is
impossible that we reach 25pc top of mind. We need to build the brand.
soon do you make the car stronger (the Datsun Go failed miserably in a Global
NCAP crash test)?
The car does not need to be stronger.
However, we are going to introduce driver air bags by the end of April 2015 for
the GO and the GO+. It was the plan
initially. When you put an airbag, you have got to do some modification inside
the car. We decided from the engineering as well as the manufacturing point of
view to do it on 100pc of the cars, even the ones that have airbags currently.
There will be slight changes in the car. There is a little bit of sheet metal
heard rumors of the GT-R coming to India. Could we expect it this year?
There are a lot of rumors about what we can bring to
India. I think Nissan has got so many exciting cars, be it the GT-R, the
Patrol, the X-Trail, so we all like to talk about all those things. GT-R is a
possibility, amongst many others but you have to know that due to the import
duties, they are quite expensive cars already in their original markets, but to
import to India would be quite a consequent price. But in terms of bringing
more shine to the brand, it could happen.
the new Teana and the New X-Trail? Could
you give us a timeline? Possibly this year?
Yes, we are working on it, it could be very much
possible, I cannot disclose any information but it is possible. Nothing this
year though. Next year? Maybe.