Renault’s Rs. 4 lakh B-Hatch to compete directly with Maruti Swift

One of the most interesting launches that Renault has lined up, which will be launched in the market in the first half of 2012 during the Auto Expo, is the B-Hatch. The B-Hatch is a hatchback that will be priced just above Rs. 4 lakhs and will take the Maruti Swift head on.

Says Phillippe Klein, executive vice president (product, planning and programs), Renault, “The B-Hatch has been designed in India by Indians at our design centre in Mumbai, and it’s a car for India, being made by Indians at our plant in Chennai. It will compete directly with the segment leader.”

This car will be based on the V-platform, on which the Nissan Micra, from Renault’s partner Nissan, is currently built. This sharing of platforms will help Renault keep costs low. Renault B-Hatch is likely to share many components with the Micra, but Renault did not give further details on the specifications of the car.

The response to this car, targeted at the popular premium hatchback market, will determine to a large extent late-entrant Renault’s ability to build a popular car brand in India.

Other launches

Renault India has lined up five products for launch between now and end 2012 in a pretty aggressive roll out plan. These products will compete across price segments, with the Renault Fluence already making inroads into the premium mid-size sedan market, competing with the Skoda Laura, Honda Civic, Toyota Altis and Chevrolet Cruze.

Renault’s next product for the Indian market is the Koleos SUV. Says Klein, “The Koleos will be launched by the end of this year. We will give you full details in a few days. India is one of the first few countries where the new 2011 Koleos is being launched.”

renault koleos suv photo
Photo: Renault Koleos SUV

The Koleos will be Renault’s most premium product in this line up. It is a compact SUV that will compete with the Skoda Yeti and Chevrolet Captiva.

The third product for the Indian market will be the Renault Duster, which will compete aggressively against the Mahindra Scorpio and Chevrolet Captiva in the Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh segment. It will be launched in the second half of 2012. The Duster is a crossover and will come with a 4×4 variant as well. The Duster too will be made locally at Renault’s plant in Chennai, which has a capacity of 400,000 cars a year, keeping costs low.

Says Klein, “This is the first time that the Duster is being made for a right-hand drive market. India is the first country to get a right-hand drive Duster.”

The fourth product is a sedan, about which Renault didn’t give any specifics. The company has not yet decided on which sedan it will launch in the Indian market. It’s keeping its cards close to its chest to adjust to market demand by the end of the year.

Besides these four planned launches, Renault also has an agreement with Bajaj to distribute and market the ultra-low cost car which will compete with the Tata Nano. However as Marc Nassif, managing director, Renault India says, “We are not counting that as one of our launches, as it’s an agreement we have with Bajaj. They need to develop the product first, and once we see the product, we’ll take a call on marketing it.”

Says Klein, “By the end of next year, we will have the freshest products on the Indian market.”  With plan on selling 100,000 cars a year by the end of 2013 in India, Renault has its work cut out.