Renault is looking at developing yet another volumes driver for India in the form of a subcompact sedan, Yes this is the sub-4 metre segment of sedans that has been popularised by the Maruti Suzuki Dzire over the past several years. Renault is looking to develop a car that would be India-specific, and yet have potential for exports to other regions. India-made subcompact sedans have shown much promise in Latin America, South East Asia, but most importantly in Africa. In fact the latter has opened up as a huge volumes region that is growing on the back of affordable subcompact models. After years of avoiding an entry, Renault is keen to get into the sub-4 metre sedan game with a new car. Sources within Renault's HQ in Paris, as well as its India operations have confirmed the development exclusively to carandbike. It is likely that Renault will look at a 2021 introduction of the said model.
Renault plans to enter the subcompact sedan segment which is currently led by the Maruti Suzuki Dzire
The segment grew 12 per cent in FY'19 to 4.6 lakh units, and is expected to hold on to similar or higher volume going ahead. The only other segment growing faster is the compact/subcompact SUV space, but sedan volumes remain higher for now. Avik Chattopadhyay, Partner, Expereal says, "The sub-4 sedan segment has grown due to growing shared and public mobility solutions. The growth in FY'19 is relative to the lower de-growth in the others. Otherwise, year on year, it has been as per the trend line. And it shall continue to do so."
In the past Renault's compact sedan play in India was built around the Dacia Logan, which is built on the B0/M0 platform. But the plan being considered now is different. It is to look at a sedan that sits below 4 metres of course, but would be built on the CMF-A+ platform. This is the same platform that is used by the Renault Triber and will be seen underpinning the upcoming Renault HBC subcompact SUV as well as a like model from Datsun/Nissan. It is a derived version of the CMF-A platform that is used by the Renault Kwid and Datsun redi-GO too. Renault's learnings from the Triber development programme have given new insights on space management and driveability that will be used in not just the upcoming car, but also likely towards the further development of the Dacia branded compact products for Eastern Europe.
The importance of this segment is underlined not just by its popularity amongst family buyers, but also by the taxi segment where fleets like Ola and Uber are big buyers. For the family buyer, the sedans being offered today combine features like connectivity with better build quality (with new crash norms and safety becoming standard), and also value. The average prices of the subcompact sedans are at least Rs 1 lakh lower than their subcompact SUV counterparts. But the SUVs are getting more popular and so it won't be easy for Renault. Chattopadhyay adds, "A new entrant will not lead to exceptional growth or expand the pie. It will take its place definitely at the cost of another. Developing a sub-4 metre sedan will be a waste of time and resources, until of course Renault has plans to dislodge the Amaze and challenge the Xcent. Otherwise, like the Ameo, it will end up being just a name on the product portfolio."
The segment is overcrowded by all stretches of the imagination! Dominated by the aforementioned Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the segment also has significant participation from the Honda Amaze. The other players are the Ford Aspire, Hyundai Xcent, Tata Tigor, and VW Ameo. The Toyota Etios is not sub-4 metre but still competes in the same category. There are reports that we may not get any next generation product in this category from either Ford or Volkswagen, but Hyundai will launch the second gen Xcent in 2020. Honda's new gen Amaze has already been ramping up the sales charts. Toyota is expected to lean on the development from Suzuki in this space for any possible future participation in this segment.