Here cometh the Duster



Call it a stroke of luck or astute planning, but the launch of the Renault Duster in the first week of next month, could not have come at a better time. The domestic car industry a squeeze seldom seen in history and unlike in the crisis of 2008-09, neither the government nor the industry has any answers to it. The current problems that began with a crisis of confidence seems a lot more fundamental and India centric.

One sure shot way to buck the trend has been to launch new exciting products. The onset of festive season in September is generally regarded as the best time to launch any new product. In the last 2-3 years, manufacturers have scrambled to do the same. Some even rushed in updated variants ahead of schedule to make use of a period when consumers are generally in a mood to splurge.

Few companies have however tried to take the jugular and launch cars when the going is tough and consumers are choosy. So first up, the Duster is a bold step. There would be a few other cars that would be launched during the month as well–the Hyundai Elantra and BMW 3 series. But these 2 cars have little riding over them. Elantra’s success or failure would hardly affect Hyundai’s overall performance or stature in India while the 3 series is a safe bet–it cant be a blockbuster neither can it be a collosal failure.

For Renault though, Duster has huge ramifications and there are chances it will not survive a blow in case the Duster fails. As it is, its cars so far–Fluence, Koleos and Pulse– have met with a lukewarm response. Initially slated to be launched just before the festive season, Duster’s advancement suggests Renault is confident about its chances in India. It also shows that the French carmaker is willing to take risks. Launching a car at this time is fraught with many dangers. Even if the car is good it may sink initially and we know how important it is for a car to do well initially for it to be a success in the long term. A revival in India is next to impossible.

It will be a very unique car for India, one that is expected to open up a new segment. Compact and light, it will seat only 5 adults but give the Indian consumers the kind of refinement and quality that is lacking in today’s SUVs and MUVs under Rs. 10 lakh. Packed away in a nondescript corner during the Auto Expo, the Duster was clearly overshadowed by the much more fancied Maruti Ertiga, XA Alpha and Ford EcoSport. But that is more to do with Renault negligible presence in the country.

At an expected price of just under Rs. 8 lakh, Duster can impact a wide variety of cars right from a Mahindra Xylo, Scorpio to a Honda City and Hyundai Verna. Maybe, due to its limited seating capabilities, Innova would be unscathed but that remains to be seen. Atleast in urban cities, this car should find a lot of takers. Spacious inside, good to look from outside, refined, smooth, and most importantly diesel, there is a lot going for it. On the flip side is dodgy after sales and service but there is always a chance that will improve as time passes.

And on a more holistic note, if Duster succeeds in bringing consumers back to the showrooms then perhaps that could be the inflexion point where things begin to change for the better. For sure this is not a Maruti or Hyundai, which has overarching effects on the overall industry. But it is always inspiring when a bold step from a rank outsider succeeds.

To sum it up, this is a serious dark horse. And one that has the first mover advantage as well.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/aseem.johri Aseem Swarup Johri

    I am Indian in GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and I hate to go to Brampton. I am much happier in my multicultural Scarborough. If I were so fond of everything Indian, I wouldn’t have stepped out of India. Also, people living in Brampton become so restricted in their circle that they’re even unfamiliar with Downtown Toronto. They are physically in Canada, but not taking advantage of what multiculturalism has to offer. What a waste.!

    [Reply]

    Simaljit Sandhu Reply:

    Aseem, I don’t know what are you talking about when you say that “Indian’s who live in Brampton are unfamiliar with downtown.” That is quite an assumption, and more specifically stereotyping. I am aware and in contact with many Indian senior citizens that travel all over Canada with their clubs. Many Bramptonians work downtown. It is a shame that you say you don’t like to visit Brampton, because too many indians live here. Ethnic enclaves are all over Canada like Indian populations who primarily reside in Brampton, Surrey, Montreal. However, it is not just Indians. Many other cultural groups decide to live in similar areas (i.e., Woodbridge is home to a large Italian-Canadian population). Seems like you are not proud to be an Indian feel sorry for you. WE love our Brampton.

    [Reply]

    Aseem Swarup Johri Reply:

    I guess I’ll have to move to Brampton to prove my patriotic colours! Why not move back to India to show greater colours.

    [Reply]

  • rajni

    very nice artical..

    [Reply]

  • Murali

    chetanji, a good analysis of the solar car scenario. however, good cars come up running on non-fossil fuels, the oil industry and the linked companies will not allow them to come to the market in considerable quantities. the only way to popularise them is to be adopted by the government for their vehicle requirement. then slowly it will be adapted by the public. the other thing is that these are not produced in numbers for them to be visible on the streets and thus generate more interest. the govt. should also look into subsidising it sans the solar cell project, which will be an added incentive for its popularity. the cost can be balanced by the funds from the renewable energy dept.

    [Reply]

  • Murali

    chetanji, a good analysis of the solar car scenario. however, good cars come up running on non-fossil fuels, the oil industry and the linked companies will not allow them to come to the market in considerable quantities. the only way to popularise them is to be adopted by the government for their vehicle requirement. then slowly it will be adapted by the public. the other thing is that these are not produced in numbers for them to be visible on the streets and thus generate more interest. the govt. should also look into subsidising it sans the solar cell project, which will be an added incentive for its popularity. the cost can be balanced by the funds from the renewable energy dept.

    [Reply]

  • Murali

    chetanji, a good analysis of the solar car scenario. however, good cars come up running on non-fossil fuels, the oil industry and the linked companies will not allow them to come to the market in considerable quantities. the only way to popularise them is to be adopted by the government for their vehicle requirement. then slowly it will be adapted by the public. the other thing is that these are not produced in numbers for them to be visible on the streets and thus generate more interest. the govt. should also look into subsidising it sans the solar cell project, which will be an added incentive for its popularity. the cost can be balanced by the funds from the renewable energy dept.

    [Reply]