French carmaker Renault marked its return to fast-growing India yesterday with the launch of a luxury sedan designed especially for the Asian market. Renault India managing director Marc Nassif said the launch of the Fluence marked “the real first phase” of the carmaker’s reentry into India.
Its earlier foray in the nation was the four-door Logan built with former local partner Mahindra and Mahindra, which aimed at the mid-size segment.
However, the Logan, launched in 2007, found few buyers, and was panned by critics for its dated looks and high price, and Renault ended the joint venture last year.
The Fluence, to be sold for about 1.3 million rupees (US$29,000), is the first Renault-branded car to be assembled in India at the automaker’s plant in Chennai.
“We are confident it will not only shake up the [luxury] segment, but also give Indian customers their first taste of what Renault is capable of bringing to the Indian market,” Nassif told reporters.
Renault has said it also plans to introduce a sports utility vehicle this year, to be known as the Koleos, followed by three more cars next year. India, along with Brazil and Russia, is among the top three markets for Renault’s international expansion plans.
The group and its Japanese partner Nissan intend to make an ultra-low cost car to be sold in India and other emerging markets that will be designed and manufactured by Bajaj Auto, the country’s leading motorbike and rickshaw maker.
The car, expected to launch next year, is expected to rival the world’s cheapest car — the Nano — produced by India’s leading vehicle maker Tata Motors.