French carmaker Renault SA aims to make India the exclusive manufacturing and export hub of its right-hand sport utility vehicle (SUV) Duster, according to people close to the development. Renault plans to launch the low-cost SUV in India, Asia’s third-biggest automobile market, by the middle of next year.
“India will be the exclusive manufacturing hub for all the right hand drive markets for Duster, including UK,” one of the people involved in the project said on condition of anonymity. This will make Renault the first foreign carmaker to use India as an export base for SUVs. Automakers such as Suzuki Motor and Hyundai use their Indian plants for export of small cars.
Renault plans to export Duster to the UK under the Dacia badge by the end of 2012, people involved in the project said, adding, that South Africa could be the next export destination, although the plan was not yet final.
“For Renault, India is the focus market for the five cars that will be launched between May 2011 and December 2012,” said Ashish Sinharoy, vice-president (communications & corporate affairs) at Renault India. “However, we will definitely look at any opportunity for exporting made-in-India cars within the Renault global network in the future.”
Conceptualized essentially for the Indian market, Duster is likely to be introduced in a price band of 8-10 lakh to take on market leader Mahindra & Mahindra’s Scorpio. Powered by 1.5 litre dCi engine and 1.6 litre petrol engine, Duster will be available in the 4X2 and 4X4 versions. The SUV for the Indian and UK markets will be similar baring some cosmetic variations in the looks.
Experts said the idea clearly is to make the most of the low cost of development and manufacturing out of India. The involvement of Indian suppliers in project right from the start speaks of the confidence the company has in their capability, they said.