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TMCNet:  India's economic situation is flu, not a chronic illness: Datsun VP [India Business] [Times of India]

[December 07, 2013]

India's economic situation is flu, not a chronic illness: Datsun VP [India Business] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) CHENNAI: Just six months after Nissan unveiled the Datsun brand in India, it has taken a decision to go solo with its marketing and distribution. In a chat with TOI, Vincent Cobee, corporate VP, Datsun business unit-Nissan, talked about the reasons for going it alone for Datsun and its future plans. Excerpts: Why has Nissan decided to go solo with the distribution and sales of Datsun vehicles? We feel it is time for us to go directly to the market. It takes a lot of time to learn about a market and now we believe we have learnt some lessons from this market and it is time to get directly engaged in the distribution of our cars. It's a logical extension. There is a moment when you need to use what you've learnt and for us that moment is now.

When the CMFA platform products start rolling out, will Nissan handle the sales or will Hover do it? The new platform that was announced is an opportunity for technical synergy - selection of suppliers, manufacturing locations, tech specs etc. Datsun will consider using this platform and introduce cars from the platform if it fits into our business strategy and plans for this market. If those cars from CMFA platform are branded Datsun, they will be sold directly. If not, then Hover will handle it.

At the Datsun launch, you said it will use "a common dealer infrastructure but will be branded differently". Now that you're going solo, will Nissan set up a new distribution infrastructure for Datsun? The Nissan and Datsun experiences are completely different. Because of the geographical spread and complexity of the Indian market, we would have a separate distribution network for Datsun but we would give preference to Nissan dealers for Datsun distribution. Depending on volumes and size of the market, it could be a shop-in-a-shop or the two outlets sitting next to each other among other options.

Does this indicate a situation where Nissan will distribute all its vehicles itself since marketers have all along maintained that hiving off marketing and sales to another outfit may not work in India? We have a relationship with Hover and that relationship continues.

Given that Nissan feels it will not be able to hit 100,000 sales target this year, are you revising your 10% market share target too? We at Nissan are aiming at 10% marketshare and Datsun brand should comprise 50% of that. Currently Nissan comprises 1.2-2% of the Indian car market. We expect both Datsun and Nissan to grow. Datsun will be a substantial part of the Nissan business in India but it won't be the only brand to grow. India is not the only high growth market to be facing hard times. Brazil is another, China has its own difficulties and many markets in Africa are also facing trouble. But in India the macro economic fundamentals are alright - its problems are availability of economic reform, financing and infrastructure and political and economic stability. The current situation is a flu, it's not a chronic illness. We believe marketshare is driven by our competitiveness and market size by external factors. We have export plans and we have leverage. So we're not revising our target downwards.

(c) 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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