Datsun Redi-GO launch in early-2016
Nissan India MD Arun Malhotra chats to TG.com about the next Datsun product, halo models and the Bangladesh cricket team
Season 2 of the gamer-to-racer GT Academy aside, things, it would seem, have been a bit silent in the Nissan camp. The company's last launch of note was the Sunny facelift well over a year ago. Even the Datsun Go+ came out at the start of this year. And, it's not like sales figures are so good that the folks in Yokohama would be at peace with this silence.
But in the background, away from the cacophony of the glitzy festive season launches, Nissan's people are burning the midnight oil working on products that they hope will capture the Indian buyers' attention, something no car to roll out of their Oragadam facility has done - yet.
Arun Malhotra, Managing Director, Nissan India, thinks things may change for the better with the arrival of the Datsun redi-GO.
Speaking to TG.com at the inauguration of Nissan India's 200th dealership, Malhotra confirmed the redi-GO – which shares its underpinnings with the Renault Kwid – will be... er, ready in a few months' time (debut at the 2016 Auto Expo, perhaps?).
"Datsun's sales figures could and should have been better than what they are. The thing with entry-level customers is they are conservative. With time, we have learned about this segment. And, every Datsun customer is satisfied with their purchase. We have the base we need now, and the redi-GO, being an entry-level model, made in India, made for India, should turn things around for us," said Malhotra.
As for new Nissans, Malhotra is keeping his cards pretty close to his chest, but he did tell us about a 'halo model' plan that's in the pipeline.
"We have chalked out a halo model plan. We will bring in some cutting-edge, top-of-the-line vehicles." We're looking at you, GT-R.
Network expansion is a priority, and Malhotra stresses on the need for the brand to be present in more cities. At the moment, there are only two Nissan dealerships in Mumbai, but that number, says Malhotra, will go up soon.
"Density-wise, Delhi is the city with the highest number of Nissan outlets. We need to grow more in Mumbai. But, we understand the world doesn't revolve around big cities. We're taking a three-pronged approach towards network expansion: reinforcing our presence in the metros, spreading out to smaller towns and then to more far-off places."
Malhotra is big on cricket, and he makes a lot of cricket references while speaking, so we're compelled to ask him: if he was to equate Nissan's current position with a present-day cricket team, which one would it be?
"I think if you look at one team that has a lot of potential which comes through in bursts, it is Bangladesh. They're a fledgling side that has beaten some top teams in the last two years, though they lack consistency. That said, teams change, but players don't. In the long run, we want to be like Rahul Dravid."
Well played, sir.