Press Trust of India (Geneva) – Renault-Nissan’s plans for an ultra low cost car in partnership with Bajaj Auto remains uncertain as it is not rushing to source a mini four-wheeler from the Indian automaker saying it is yet to complete analysing the product.
“We did not finish our analysis and will let you know once this analysis is finished,” said Carlos Ghosn, the chief of the Franco-Japanese automobile alliance at the Geneva Motor Show here.
As per an agreement reached between Renault-Nissan and Bajaj Auto in 2009, the Indian automaker was supposed to design, develop and manufacture the product, which was intended as an ultra low cost car, while the alliance would sell it under their badging.
Bajaj Auto had unveiled the RE60, a mini-four wheeler meant for urban transportation to replace three-wheelers at the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January this year.
At the time of unveiling the RE60, Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj had said it would be up to Renault-Nissan whether to source it or not after seeing the product.
Bajaj had, however, refused to call the RE60 that is a powered by a 200 cc rear mounted petrol engine with a top speed of 70kmph, as a car saying it was a commercial vehicle meant for passenger transportation.
Ghosn remained non-committal to source the RE60 from Bajaj saying: “We are very cautious because it is a new market for us. So we are checking the product and will take a decision based on what we have seen on the Bajaj version.”
He further said: “What we are trying to do is really try, check and measure and come back again.”
In January, 2008 Bajaj Auto had unveiled its concept passenger car with an expected price of USD 3000. It had partnered Renault-Nissan for the ultra low cost (ULC) car project. The ULC was first scheduled to hit the roads in India in 2011, but was delayed due to differences between the partners on pricing and design.
While Renault-Nissan wanted to price the car at around USD2,500, Bajaj insisted on lowering the overall cost of ownership.
In 2010, Renault-Nissan announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Bajaj Auto to take forward their ULC car project.
Since then, Bajaj Auto had gone on to develop the RE60 but it remained uncertain if Renault-Nissan would source the product to sell in India and similar global markets and their partnership has not flourished.
“Indian market is a very new market for us, we are investing a lot. Some partnerships are successful, some partnerships did not work. Some partnerships are working very well. Renault’s association with Mahindra did not end very well, but Nissan association with Ashok Leyland is very good,” Ghosn said.