Venkatram Mamillapalle (left) talks about the Renault Kwid, Kiger, and Triber
Venkatram Mamillapalle (left) talks about the Renault Kwid, Kiger, and Triberevo India

“We are looking at mostly localisation of EVs” Renault India Country CEO Venkatram Mamillapalle talking about Renault’s India plans

In a conversation with Venkatram Mamillapalle, country CEO & managing director of Renault’s India operations, we talked about the new MY24 cars, as well as upcoming cars including those in the premium and EV segments

We sat down with Venkatram Mamillapalle, country CEO & managing director, Renault India operations, to talk about the newly launched MY24 cars – Kiger, Triber and Kwid, Renault’s broader plans for India including the Duster and the premium segment, the future of electrics in India, their current limitations and much more. He walks us through the plans for 2024, including the feature and variants updates the three models already on sale – the focus remaining on bringing big features at more affordable prices. 

While talking about the future cars, he does talk about the new platform being developed for the bigger SUVs / MPVs that will be launched in the next three years. He also talks about EVs, Renault’s plan for the one EV launch they will have in the next three years and why there isn’t an electric Renault in India yet. 

As told to Aatish Mishra

Whether the Duster will return to India is uncertain
Whether the Duster will return to India is uncertainDacia

On what to expect for 2024

“We have three cars. Kwid, Triber and the Kiger. We are adding features to the cars and we are also bringing some of the most affordable features in the marketplace in the respective segments. Let's talk about Kwid – we are trying to bring the dual-tone colours. All the colours that we have will have a dual-tone option, and we are bringing an eight-inch touchscreen. We will also not change the lower prices – so making it more affordable, and more attractive for the customers despite a lot of pressures in the marketplace for various commodities increases, which have taken place in 2023. In 2023, we took a small pause, our volumes were lower, and we cleaned up the inventories across the network as well as in the plant, making it more optimised for us. We made our engineering guys work hard to get the cost down. The purchasing guys have worked very hard to get the costs down and give all those benefits to the customers. So that's the intent." 

“Similarly with Triber as well as Kiger – the most affordable in the segment, again there is something very new. We are adding some new variants to the whole portfolio. We are adding some of the variants which we exited, but are now coming back with additional features as well as the additional automatic transmission without changing the price.”

On compact SUV competition getting big updates

“Bigger cars have bigger updates, and the price points of those cars can accommodate those updates. But with the price points that we have, we are giving many more features than the bigger cars which have got an update. So that's the whole strategy which we have worked across all these car segments. What is very important for us is giving value to customers and their safety. We had a program called ‘Human First’ – and last part of 2023, there were a lot of regulatory requirements which came from the government. No matter whether the regulations were implemented by the government or not. But we implemented it in the car. How much of that is passed to the customer by value for their safety is the first thing, and now we are adding more at no extra cost.” 

On bringing in a mid-size SUV

“I'm sure you know that in February 2023, we announced that we are entering into the B+ (Creta segment) and the C segment (Harrier segment). So that is going further. We are already working on the investments of Rs 5300 crores, and we have started putting money and spending. So it's on track and we will be bringing the B+ and the C segment into the country. In three years, we will have five launches… We are now at the Rs 10 lakh mark, we will be playing in the higher segments in future. ”

On the new platform for these SUVs

“We are already sitting on two platforms currently in India and we're going to add one more bigger platform, obviously because when you go for B+ and C [segments], there is a bigger platform. B+ is one platform, and C is another platform but it has a carryover of some portion of the platform. It isn’t cut and paste. The centre floor will change. The firewall will probably remain the same. Up to the B pillar, it can be common. The back side will completely change up to the C pillar.”

On the pricing of premium products

“What we are doing with Triber and Kiger, I can play the same game in the B+ and the C segments. Why should we price it something like 25-30 lakhs for no reason?”

On when to expect Renault’s EV

“We have announced that we will bring an EV – only one EV as of now, and we are working on that. We are waiting for the regulations to firm up a little more because it's fluctuating. Everytime we go meet my friends in the government, we get different requirements. After building up the full EV and then if you have to re-modify, it is expensive because the electric architecture is different, electronics are different, your battery packs are different and so on. We are ready, we are preparing, and we have started investing by the way. We will come with an EV. Let the government freeze the regulations, and we will be ready that day.”

On why Renault doesn’t have an EV in India yet

“We are looking at mostly localisation of EVs. For Renault, EV is not new. We have been making millions of cars and today we have five EVs in Europe. In LHD and RHD. All we need to do is just bring them and start selling them tomorrow. But is that the purpose? What is the value to the customer? We are looking at the ecosystem and cost of ownership too. Trust me, I have a Megane EV in Chennai. After he drops me in the office, till evening he is looking for a place to charge the car… There is a significant problem with charging and we are not ready with the ecosystem. Today, I can't travel more than 150 kilometres with an EV. The other option is that you have your slow charger at home. But how much of a solution is that? And if you don't use the car beyond the city limits, what is it worth?”

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