Automobile brand Renault has gained ground in the country by establishing itself as one of the top three brands in the country in less than 18 months. The company's authorized importer, Advanced Automobile Pvt Ltd, launched its 12th showroom in Nepal and second in Kathmandu at Naxal on Wednesday. Head of Exports and Business Development at Groupe Renault, Naveen Mishra, is in Kathmandu to inaugurate the company's showroom. Ayam Shrestha of Republica caught up with Mishra to talk about Renault's experiences, setbacks and achievements in Nepal. Excerpts:
How has been the market for Renault motor vehicles in Nepal?
In less than a year and half, we have been able to establish ourselves as one of the top three brands in Nepal. This was obviously a challenge for a new brand coming in the country and it was not easy to gain the confidence of customers. After thorough research of the market, we discovered that it is important to give customers a right to choose as people's aspirations are high. Nepal has a population of youth looking for good designs. This is what we had in mind while launching Renault in Nepal. I think we have been successful so far in the market. How is the Nepali automobiles market different from other countries?
Every market in its own way is different from other market. I believe it would be a mistake to say that the same strategy can be adopted in one market that we follow in other markets. So we had to be very careful to screen Nepal's customer base. Customers here are mainly focused in two things. Firstly, they want to really drive a world class product. Secondly, the Nepali population demands the most advanced technology. Renault provides customers with some of the best features an automobile could offer and thus this has been a major selling point for us in the Nepali market. For example, the KWID hatchback acquaints costumers with SUV-like experience, and this has make KWID attract customers in Nepal which is different from what we experience in other countries. How is the demand for high-end motor vehicles like Renault's Lodgy and Duster in the Nepali market?
There is space for each and every car in the market. However, the most demanded car in Nepal is hatchback, followed by SUV. This is actually due to the terrain and topography of the country. So the bet lies on these segments over others. However, luxury cars will always be selling in the market as the Nepali economy is growing and so is people's purchasing power.
What have been the challenges and setbacks for Renault in the Nepali automobile industry?
For Renault, the challenge was obviously due to it being a new brand. As we were a new brand, we were not present in the country as much as we are now. So when kicking off our brand in Nepal, our top priority was to reach closer to customers. Speaking of setbacks, I feel we have been very lucky in that part. Also, we are thankful to the situation in the country as for the last couple of years, these have been a boost in the national economy. Nepal has been, I would say, a bright spot in SAARC region. As the outlook of the country has changed, people have better opportunities. So, our journey in Nepal has indeed been very positive.
What plans does Renault have for the next few years? Are there any targets for the upcoming year?
We have clearly charted out a plan for Nepal in terms of our immediate to midterm plan. We want to keep Nepal in the forefront of Renault's new products. So, we have made a commitment to at least offer one new product to this market. Also, we are trying to strengthen our SUV section and Renault's new product -- Captur -- in Nepal in the next two months.
As a new brand in Nepal, we were like a little kid trying to walk. For that, we established our showrooms in all Tier 1 cities. Now we are trying to run. And in the next phase, we want to introduce our showrooms to Tier 2 cities. We still have to research in this area and try our best to offer the costumers which is suiting for them, not something suiting for the company as we cannot succeed that way. Thirdly, we have aimed to give the best after-sale services to our customers.