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This week in Auto: Kia Sonet bookings skyrocket to 50,000; Nissan’s last-ditch effort for India

Here is a look at all the important developments in the auto space this week

October 24, 2020 / 03:50 PM IST

After a gap of 18 months, India’s domestic car market saw the first new model unveiling from Nissan, the smallest Japanese car brand in India. Despite a minuscule presence for several years, Nissan is hoping to make it big with the all-new Magnite. In today’s wrap we take a look at why the Magnite is important for Nissan. However, before that here is a complete look at all the important developments in the auto space this week.

Ather Energy cuts prices

Ather Energy, the electric two-wheeler startup, has launched a buyback programme for the 450X, guaranteeing a buyback for Rs 85,000 at the end of three years after purchase.

The Bengaluru-based company also has a buyback scheme on the 450+, one of its two models available in the market for sale, for Rs 70,000.

Nissan Magnite unvieled


Nissan Motor Corporation unveiled the new Nissan Magnite on October 21. The Magnite will commercially be launched in January and bookings of the SUV will open in a few weeks.

Engineered in Japan, it is the first Nissan car that will be launched first in India before moving to other parts of the world. Prices of the SUV and details of the variants will be revealed at the time of the commercial launch.

Kia Sonet has 50,000 bookings, while Mahindra Thar clocks 15,000 bookings

The Kia Sonet was launched at an introductory price of Rs 6.71 lakh in August, and the company has just announced that 50,000 bookings have already been made.

Mahindra Thar 2020 has bagged over 15,000 bookings in a little over two weeks since its launch on October 2, Interestingly, nearly 57 percent of the buyers of the all-new second-generation SUV will be first-time vehicle owners.

Motherson announces acquisition in Mexico

Motherson Sumi Systems (MSSL), via its Mexican subsidiary, has signed an agreement to acquire the activities of electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS) performed at Bombardier Transportation’s manufacturing site in Huehuetoca, Mexico.

The transaction includes the transfer of assets, employees, and inventories, on a debt-free and cash-free basis and is valued at around $10 million (subject to customary adjustments).

Bajaj Auto net profit down 19 percent in Q2

Bajaj Auto, the two-and-three-wheeler maker, has reported an 18.8 percent year-on-year decline in September quarter standalone profit to Rs 1,138.2 crore.

"The profitability was lower on account of lower interest rates/yields during Q2 FY21 which resulted in reduction of treasury income and revision in corporate tax rates last year resulted in a one-time gain of around Rs 182 crore in Q2 FY20," the company said.

Nissan’s last ditch effort

Earlier this week, four very senior executives from Nissan conducted presentations on the Magnite, a made-for-India compact SUV, which it plans to launch commercially in early 2021.

Explaining various aspects of the new model, the four knew how important it is for brand Nissan to hit the sweet spot with the Magnite. Developed in Japan but designed as per Indian buyers' tastes, the Magnite isn’t only the latest but also the biggest bet for Nissan to have a crack at the fourth-largest car market in the world.

Founded in 2005, Nissan Motor India has struggled to achieve its targets repeatedly despite launching several models at various price points in a variety of passenger vehicle segments. These include the Micra hatchback, Sunny sedan, Evalia van, Terrano and X-Trail SUVs, Teanna premium sedan, 370Z sports car.

All of the above have been phased out, but not before Nissan made multiple attempts to revive their sales. With the express contraction of its portfolio, the company is currently left with only the Kicks SUV and the GT-R sports car, making it the smallest portfolio by a carmaker in India.

To take the car market leader Maruti Suzuki head-on, Nissan even revived its defunct brand Datsun, which promised to offer cars priced cheaper than Nissan itself. Despite the coming on board of actor Aamir Khan to promote the brand, Datsun remains a fringe player with less than 1 percent market share.

Poor after sales support and premium pricing prevented the desired rise in Nissan’s popularity in India. In the customer service index study conducted by JD Power, Nissan stood seventh with an overall score much lower than the market average.

Nissan is hoping big with the Magnite, especially since the segment it will debut in remains a top draw with the Indian buyers. There have been 11 launches in the compact SUV segment in the last few years, and the segment has seen the maximum action compared to any other segment.

Five launches - Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet, Mahindra XUV300 and Toyota Urban Cruiser - have debuted in this segment in the last three years. And three more have been lined up for launch in the next 9-12 months.

Nissan generates smallest volumes among the four Japanese car making companies in India. As of FY20, Nissan branded cars had a share of just 0.64 percent in domestic sales. The company sold 17,976 units in India during FY20 marking a fall of 51 percent compared to FY19. During the same year, the rest of the passenger vehicle industry fell by 18 percent.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Oct 24, 2020 03:49 pm

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