Renault's KWID to do well but cannot beat Alto!

The auto market in India has once again jazzed up with Renault launching its entry level car, KWID, on Thursday. The car, which is the first for Renault in the entry-level segment, has been priced at Rs 2.5 lakh ex-showroom price, Delhi.

But while Renault too has jumped into the wagon in order clock in higher sales, can we expect the brand to break the clutter and oust Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai from the leadership positions in the market or will it end up being yet another me-too product for the consumers?

“I don’t think Renault can really challenge the positions of Maruti or a Hyundai but I definitely expect it to do well,” says auto expert Murad Ali Baig.

He adds that the French auto major has adopted a ‘clever strategy’ to beat the competition in the segment. “They have not only kept the pricing competitive but have also given a mini-SUV look to the car, which no other brand has tried with their entry-level cars. It doesn’t look like an Alto or an Eon. It has a much more masculine personality,” he explains.

If one looks back at the sector, consumers increasingly prefer cross-over cars from the conventional cars. And while Renault, it seems, has cleverly played on this growing trend, it has never been able to build a strong rapport with the quintessential Indian consumers.

According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ (SIAM’s) August 2015 report, even though there has been a miniscule increase in the passenger vehicle sale by 3.3%, Renault India has witnessed a decline in its number.

As per the report, Renault India has recorded a whopping 52% decline in its August sales with the company registered a sale of only 1,527 units in August 2015 as against 3,235 units sold in the same month last year. In fact, Renault’s Duster, which is one of the high-performing models from the stable, has seen a dip in its number. The model, which sold over 3,000 units in September 2014, could only sell 1,109 units in August 2015.

On the other hand, Maruti Alto has sold over 23,000 units while Maruti registered a rise of nearly 10% in its August 2015 sales over last year, thus retaining its leadership position in the mass segment.

However, the company is betting big on KWID. Sumit Sawhney, CEO and managing director, Renault India says, “With Renault KWID, we offer our customers the best compact hatchback which has been designed and developed by Renault’s global teams including India, making it a truly international car. We have completely reinvented the conventional expectations and notions associated with the mini car segment in India with an Attractive, Innovative and Affordable product.

He adds, “Renault KWID is astutely designed, loaded with class leading features and comes at a compelling price point, offering customers the best from the world of Renault. With Renault KWID, we have taken the localization level to 98%, the highest ever by an auto manufacturer in India at the onset of launch, which will enable customers to enjoy an unmatched ownership experience.”

Well, while the company can ride high on its latest offering, what remains to be seen is whether it can bring the much needed numbers for this auto major, or will it end up being ‘just another car’ in the already crowded segment?
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