Nissan Motors, founded in 1914 by Yoshisuke Aikawa, Rokuro Aoyama, Kenjiro Den and Meitaro Takeuchi, struggled initially due to a limited market. The company in the 1930s shifted its gears into war production making military trucks, engines for fighter planes and torpedo boats under the name DAT Motors. The company’s name was changed to Nissan Motor Co in 1934 giving its initial product – the small Datsun car. Nissan Motors has now grown to a global power with its production sites in 16 countries and offering products and services in over 190 countries. Nissan is now one of the top 6 largest car manufacturing companies in the world.
Nissan Motors India Pvt Ltd which is a subsidiary of the mother company, Nissan Motor Limited Japan was incorporated in 2005. Nissan merged with Renault as its global alliance partner and both the companies signed a MoU with the government of Tamil Nadu to set up a one of a kind manufacturing plant near Chennai investing Rs 4500 crores.
Talking to them about their operations that happened a little later when compared to other car manufacturers, the company explains the reason rather positively. The Indian economy is growing at a higher pace and the growth has opened up new opportunities for global automotive companies. India being a strategically 3important market for Nissan, they have been watching the Indian automobile market for a while and have been doing business here through selling CBU cars from 2005-06. In line with their steady establishment of business, they started selling locally produced cars from August 2010.
In a candid chat with Nissan India, the company’s top management talks about its plans for India.
Are there new technologies that have been made exclusively for India considering the roads and safety here?
Nissan is known for its world-class technologies. Our constant endeavor is to provide products and services that meet the needs of the discerning customers. Micra was the first to introduce innovative ‘push button start’ in hatch back in India. We have also introduced in Micra and Sunny features generally found in high-end sedans such as iKey, Push Button Start, Fine Vision Meters, Auto A/C, Steering wheel controls etc. Nissan SUNNY have high-end safety features such as Electronic Brake-force Distribution and ABS systems enhanced braking performance and Airbags for safety and stress-free driving.
Nissan has over 40 different models to show. It is a different case when we consider India. Why is that?
India has large market among first time car patrons who look for luxury products which offers combination of price, fuel efficiency and eco friendliness, powered, safety. That is why Nissan chose Micra as our entry car into the Indian market. Last year, we introduced Sunny in the entry sedan segment are currently working to introduce an Urban class Utility Vehicle later this year. These are in addition to our CKD model Nissan Teana in the luxury sedan segment, Nissan Xtrail in the SUV segment and 370z in the sport car segment. We will never be a niche player by focusing on any one segment. We will be there as a big player with our presence in all the segments.
We see many big players like Ferrari and Porsche who have already made their position strong selling their exotic variants. When is Nissan going with that? Why are only the small and medium variants being sold and not the exotic cars like Skyline/ patrol etc?
Nissan is always looking at various ways to expand our product portfolio in India, in line with its mid-term growth strategy of Power-88. By end of 2016, we plan to introduce 5 all new models exclusively for Indian market including Evalia.
What are the challenges you are facing in a market like India?
High interest rates, raising petrol prices, escalating inflation, need to spread the distribution network are some of the challenges we have to handle to be in the Indian market currently.
Do you see a global growth in the small car segment?
Yes, we find rapid growth in the small car segment especially in emerging market, what we call as high growth markets, such as India, Indonesia and Russia. That is why we have decided to bring back Datsun to address this demand through a new line of vehicles under the Datsun brand.
Why did you choose Chennai as a manufacturing hub? Is it because there are other players like ford and Hyundai?
Chennai was our destination as it offers good supplier base, quality of labor and port with good connectivity. In addition, there is a strong support from the state government.
It seems like Nissan is playing a satisfying game. Are you happy with the way Indian market is responding to your products? Are you happy with Nissan’s progress in India?
We are quite satisfied so far the way Nissan has progressed in the Indian market. We have closed FY11 with an impressive 155 per cent growth, by selling over 33,500 units. We attribute this impressive sales growth to aggressive sales and marketing plan being undertaken by Nissan through various innovative initiatives across India, thanks to the dealer network and efficient after sales initiatives of the company. This has helped us to connect with our customers and enrich their experience with every sale of the vehicle.
What are your plans in India?
Nissan is expanding its product portfolio to meet the ever-growing demographic needs of the customer to offer enriching driving experience. We have set a target of 100,000 unit sales by FY 2013. In order to achieve the 100,000 mark by the next fiscal, we will be working on in the areas of distribution network expansion, improving brand visibility at the market place, and bringing in new and innovative products suited for the Indian market.
(As told to Vishwas Nair)