Renault betting high on its recently launched Duster

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 12:16 PM by

The French car maker, Renault, with the engineers of Dacia worked hard in designing the new compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) Duster. Dacia is a Romanian auto maker, which is completely owned by Renault. This affordable vehicle is considered as a perfect blend of SUV’s off-roading capabilities and luxuries of a sedan.

Renault betting high on its recently launched Duster | CarTrade.com
Renault betting high on its recently launched Duster

Offered at Rs 7.2 lacs, Duster is counted amongst the cheapest SUVs in the world. The car boasts of advanced features like special rear air-conditioning system, which is one of the main requirements of Indian buyers. Reportedly, the Indian market will be the major hub for the production of Duster’s right hand drive model. The production will be carried at the company’s Chennai facility. From here, Renault will later export the model to other auto markets of world, including UK.

According to Len Curran, Marketing Head, Renault India, “We have done a lot of homework to customise Duster for the Indian market. The right-hand drive is only made in India which would be our global hub for all such vehicles. Diesel comes in multiple options while the interiors have been tweaked with a special rear air conditioning for the Indian market.”

The newly launched model has been received well in the country, with around 6000 bookings in just a week after its launch. Renault is enjoying the success of its new car mainly because of its competitive pricing philosophy, which floats close to that of Honda City and Maruti Suzuki SX4.

Indian auto market has a great appetite for the SUVs, which is available from Rs. 6 lacs to Rs. 1 crore. The sales of UVs were significantly high with 3.67 lac units sold in fiscal 2012, which marked a growth of 16 per cent. The figures were highly impressive as compared to other cars, which registered a mere 2 per cent growth during the same period. In fiscal 2012, the market share of SUVs surged by more than 3 per cent and stood at around 14 per cent, among the total 26.18 lac passenger vehicles sold in the country.

Renault Duster will be manufactured with almost 60 per cent localisation, which has helped the company in keeping the price low. Talking about its production plants, Marc Nassif, Managing Director, Renault India, quoted “We will eventually raise it to over 80% once we source all the required components and parts from the Indian market. There could be scepticism in the market but given the response, we are convinced that Renault has arrived in India. Duster would be the game changer for us and the entire SUV market.”

With the launch of a compact SUV at a competitive price range, Renault has stepped over its close competitors like Skoda Yeti and Premier Rio. Yeti is over-priced than Duster, while Rio which starts at Rs. 5 lacs has some technical drawbacks and also reeks of quality.

Deepesh Rathore, Managing Director (India), IHS Global Insight, a Global Consultancy expressed that “The market is looking for quality. Duster has some advantages. It's a spacious car with a dependable and robust engine mated to a solid design. Had it come from Maruti or Hyundai stable, it would have been an instant success. Limited market penetration and poor brand image could be major drawbacks.”