Japanese auto major Nissan Motor Company on Thursday unveiled a seven-seater car `Evalia` at the ongoing 11th Auto Expo in New Delhi. In a conversation with Reema Sharma and Diwash Gahatraj of Zeebiz.com, Kiminobu Tokuyama, MD and CEO, Nissan Motor India talked about the company’s expansion plans, future projects, opportunities and new ventures. Excerpts…
Q: Are you happy with the response that you have got at the Auto Expo?
A: The response has been really good. We are also happy about the response that our car Nissan Sunny has got for the past three months. People have appreciated it. Our new launch, the Sunny diesel has been satisfactory. In a competitive market we have been able to price out the car quite correctly. Sunny has got a premium design and boasts of excellent features.
Q: What about the seven-seater car `Evalia` that you unveiled yesterday?
A: Production of Evalia will start from August this year. This seven-seater car has got a Monocoque design which gives it an advantage of having a light body. It will also have more power due to its light weight. It has got a 1.5-litre dCi turbo-diesel engine that will make the car more fuel efficient. We will start the production of the Evalia by August this year at Nissan’s factory near Chennai. So I am hopeful that the car will hit the roads this year itself.
Q: Nissan always had that ‘youth’ appeal in India. Has this image helped the company? Was it deliberately positioned?
A: Image wise people might feel that it is a youth car. It has got a really fresh look. The younger generation can relate to the image of the car. Micra and Sunny have been accepted by the younger families (people who have just started a family). But we intend to appeal to a wider generation.
Q: What is your branding strategy?
A: We have a global branding strategy—Innovation and excitement. There would be no exception in India as well. We have roped in Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor in India. He adds to the ‘young’ appeal, as you said.
Q: What will be Evalia’s appeal?
A: Evalia is going to be a family car. But being a seven-seater it can cater to different segments. It will be very good for commercial purpose as well.
Q: What are your plans for the next five years?
A: We have come here to be a major player. We have entered into partnership with Ashok Leyland. We have very aggressive plans in the years ahead. We would be aggressive in terms of research and development, manufacturing, operations, sales and dealership networks. We plan to triple our dealership network in the country in the next three years. Right now we have fifty dealerships in operation. There are other major launches in the pipeline. Cars in both the B segment as well as at the entry level are in the pipeline.
Q: What according to you are the opportunities and threats?
A: We do see a lot of scope for growth. There are a lot of opportunities in India. We are continuously trying to offer our best in terms of design, feature and quality. Our motto is to offer high quality products of good value. But we have to be also mindful of pricing of the product. Rupee depreciation has had a huge impact on our manufacturing cost. Right now, the big challenge is pricing. Production cost needs to be more efficient. We are working hard on manufacturing and design. We will never compromise on the quality and safety of our product.
Q: Who are your competitors?
A: I cannot name any competitor as such. But market has it that Evalia is a potential competitor for the Toyota Innova. However, I cannot straight away deny competition. When we study the market we do have a track of our competitors. It can be Maruti or it can be Toyota or any other brand. But our aim is to have a clear brand scene. We will offer innovative range with stylish and sophisticated designs.