What is needed to stay competitive in the car market? Ask this to Mr. Vincent Cobee and the global head of the Datsun brand of Nissan Motor’s will answer that it is Innovation and Styling. Nissan is trying its best to revive the sales of its value car brand which is facing sluggish growth. In the Indian car market Datsun has managed to sell only 80,000 units so far against the set target of selling 200,000 units in three years. “In India, we are still in the learning phase. We are entering the lifecycle of the brand. We will continuously upgrade our products,” says Cobee.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for Nissan and Datsun all these years and except for Nissan’s Sunny the other car brands from its stable has not been able to succeed in the Indian market.
Renault, the sister company of Nissan on the other hand has been able to create positive vibes in the Indian market with quality and styling and has tasted success with Duster and its premium compact car Kwid. Kwid has been a game changer for Renault and it has already managed to break the strong hold of market leaders like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai.
Datsun brand which was revived after three decades has been able to sell about 250,000 units globally and India accounts a third of that. The brand has not been able to create the impact which the company expected it to do but Datsun accounts for more than 50 per cent of the cars that Nissan Motor India sells.
The Indian car market which is expected to touch 5 million units by the end of the decade has been throwing interesting challenges to the car manufacturers and Datsun is hopeful that the brand will be able to sell 125,000 units by the end of this decade. Though a very ambitious target, Mr. Vincent Cobee believes that this can be achieved if the carmaker comes out with a very strong product. According to him, “No matter how strong the brand is, Indian consumers will discard the product if it is not right. This is the big lesson for us.
For change in fortune, Datsun in future would be looking to enhance the style quotient of existing models by adding more connectivity features. They might also bring out models with automatic transmission and introduce hybrid technology in future.
What remains to be seen is how a value brand like Datsun from Nissan is able to carve out a niche for itself in the already crowded automobile market in India. The needs and wants of automobile customers are also changing and they have started moving up the value chain. In todays times when a value car like Tata Nano is performing badly, how a value brand like Datsun makes head way is the challenge. Is innovation and styling the key or is it good brand equity. If it is brand equity how can a value brand shrug off its tag and scale up or is there a need to scale up . All these questions needs to be answered before Datsun takes a shot at the future strategy to survive in the Indian car market.