nissan magnite: Nissan looks to drive in more SUVs after Magnite success

Japanese carmaker Nissan – which has scripted success in India with the Magnite SUV – is looking at expanding its presence in the country by introducing multiple products in the fast-growing sports utility vehicle segment, Nissan India president Frank Torres has said.

“SUV is one of the most strategic pillars in our future ideas for India. We have global leadership (in this space); there is also a growing demand in India,” Torres told ET.

Nissan will also analyse and understand customer acceptance of newer electrified technologies, he added.

The company has started testing Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai in the domestic market. It is also showcasing Juke SUV to gauge consumer interest.

Nissan is looking at leveraging the strength of its global product portfolio and eco-friendly technologies to chart its future roadmap in the country, Torres said.

Sales of utility vehicles in the country increased by 50% year on year to nearly a million vehicles in the first six months of this financial year.

Home-grown auto major Tata Motors leads this category with sales of 181,481 units in six months ended September, followed by Mahindra & Mahindra with sales of 167,052 units and Maruti Suzuki with 163,630 units, as per data available with Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Nissan remains a niche player in the market with sales of 17,883 units in the first half.

Nissan is drawing the blueprint for its second phase of expansion in India. It plans to build on its existing assets – a manufacturing plant and an R&D centre.

The plans will be finalised in the coming weeks.

The review being undertaken by the company includes securing future localised production for the long-term viability of domestic and export manufacturing, as well as exploring the potential for electrification in the longer term, officials said.

Overall, the company said India should look at encouraging multiple technologies including to curb vehicular pollution.

“India should consider taxing passenger vehicles based on emissions rather than length and engine size of vehicles, for a cleaner environment,” said Rakesh Srivastava, managing director of Nissan India. “We can have different tax slabs based on the level of emissions.”

The government currently levies varied GST rates on vehicles below and above four meters in length, and in terms of fuel.

Nissan has joined the ranks of compatriots Suzuki, Toyota and Honda who in seeking lower taxes on hybrid vehicles to accelerate the journey towards full electrification in the local automobile industry.

To be sure, strong hybrids come at a premium of 20-30% over conventional petrol cars, but deliver 35-40% higher fuel efficiency, and address the anxiety of vehicle buyers in a country that is yet to have a widespread charging network in place.

In comparison, electric vehicles currently command a premium of 60-70% over their corresponding gasoline versions. Besides, studies undertaken by carmakers have shown that due to inadequate availability of parking space, 85% of car owners in the country do not park their vehicles at the same spot every day, making installations of charging set-ups in residential areas rather difficult.

Industry experts believe the passenger vehicle segment will probably be the last to switch to EVs due to the steep cost difference, slow evolution of the EV ecosystem, and need for stable power supplies.

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