Renault is looking at building a mass-market electric vehicle in India, sources have revealed.
The move is part of a broader plan by Renault to rekindle sales in a country where the carmaker remains profitable despite selling fewer cars in 2022 than a year earlier, the person said.
The French carmaker is reportedly studying launching a made-in-India EV version of its Kwid hatchback.
The move underscores how Renault is pushing ahead with its electrification plans even as it extends unresolved negotiations with its partner Nissan about investing in an EV unit it plans to carve out from its other operations.
It also points to the shifting perception of the auto market in India, which posted the fastest growth of any major market in 2022.
EVs were on track to be less than 1% of car sales last year but the government has set a target of 30% by 2030 and has had recent success in attracting suppliers for international automakers with a range of subsidies.
Renault will assess potential demand, pricing and the ability to build the EV with local components, said a source, adding that any launch would be late in 2024.
Renault India declined to comment on product plans but said the company has a “strong focus on electrification globally” as part of the strategy outlined by CEO Luca de Meo and that “India is one of the key markets” for the group.
India is set to become the world’s third-largest market for passenger and other light vehicles, displacing Japan, according to a forecast by S&P Global Mobility. Industry-wide sales grew an estimated 23% to 4.4 million vehicles in 2022.
Tata Dominant in India
That is a contrast to the outlook for the United States, where the market is expected to remain below 2019 levels next year, and China, where demand is weakening.
In India, domestic carmaker Tata Motors, which dominates electric car sales, as well as foreign players like Stellantis, Hyundai Motor and SAIC’s MG Motor are lining up EV launches.
To qualify for incentives in India, Renault would have to build the car at its alliance plant in southern India and source components locally, the first person said. The India plant is majority owned by Nissan.
Renault currently produces the Kwid hatchback, Kiger SUV and seven-seater Triber in India. Its sales fell 9% to around 87,000 units in 2022 and its market share dipped to just over 2%.
As a part of the India reboot, Renault also plans to invest in refurbishing and upgrading some of its major dealerships in big cities, the person said. The company said it has 500 sales outlets in India.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara