Franco-Japanese auto alliance Renault-Nissan has decided not to continue its partnership with the Pune-based Bajaj Auto for building an ultra-low-cost car and has confirmed that it is looking at other partners, or that it could even go solo on the project as creating new ideas is in the DNA of the company. Apart from India, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is already catering to entry-level segments in emerging markets like China and Russia.
The story of Bajaj’s ULC car project started wayback in Jan-2008, just 2 days before unveiling the Tata Nano, Bajaj showcased a prototype of its own lost-cost car. In May-2008, Renault-Nissan alliance partnered with Bajaj Auto for design, development and production of an ultra low cost car for masses. As per an agreement in Nov-2009, the Indian automaker was supposed to manufacture while Renault-Nissan to distribute and sell it.
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 USD 2,500, Bajaj insisted on lowering the overall cost of ownership. Later on Sep-2011, Renault-Nissan expresses disappointment says Bajaj Auto is yet to show them a car, at the time Bajaj said the car is still under development for 2012 launch.
Earlier this year in Jan-2012, Bajaj Auto had showcased the passenger carrier that it had developed under the ULC project. Dubbed the RE60, the passenger carrier seemed more apt to replace Bajaj’s three wheeled autorickshaws rather than be low cost car, at the time Renault-Nissan says it will decide in due course. This is the prime reason why Renault-Nissan has quit the alliance. And this month Sep-2012, at the launch of the Nissan Evalia an announcement was made by Toru Hasegawa, Nissan official that the Renault-Nissan has finally pulled out of the Bajaj RE60 project.
Apart from this, other reasons for Renault-Nissan quiting the ULC project might be due to the introduction of Datsun low cost car brand, which is expected to spawn small cars under the INR 3 lakh price tag by 2014 orelse due to the low-sales of Tata Nano. Outside India, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is addressing “price-entry” segments in many emerging economies, such as Indonesia, China and Russia.
In China, two vehicles under the Venucia Brand (R50 and D50) have already been launched by the Dong Feng- Nissan Joint Venture, the company said. And in Russia, collaboration between Renault-Nissan and AvtoVAZ is already making progress on vehicles to be launched under the Datsun Brand.
Refresher – Bajaj RE60 is powered by a 200cc, water cooled, single cylinder four stroke engine that produces a peak power between 16 to 20 Bhp. This engine will feature Bajaj’s DTSi dual spark plug ignition technology that can hit a limited speed of 70km per hour while returning a mileage of about 35 kmpl in real world condition and weighs only 400 kgs. The RE60 4-wheeler can seat 4 people in a 1+3 or 2+2 layout and priced under INR 1 lakh, when it hits production in mid-2013. Apart from petrol, RE60 will also be available in the LPG and CNG variants. No diesel or electric options will be available.
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