Renault India took a step forward towards their volume segment ambitions for India with the reveal of their new small car. The new Renault Kwid, known as the XBA, or Kayou, so far, is based on the CMF-A platform. CMF-A stands for Common Module Family and the A stands for Affordable. Carlos Ghosn, chairman and group CEO, was on hand to unveil the car. The Renault Kwid was first unveiled at the Auto Expo 2014 as a concept.
Talking about the Renault Kwid, Ghosn said that the car was robust, designed for active families. He also said that it was designed to be a game-changer. The car wears a strong-looking Renault grille with rectangular headlamps and a muscular, squared-off design. The side cladding makes it look sort of like a small SUV from some angles and we believe that’s going to stand the car in good stead in showrooms. The high ground clearance and the strong wheel arches are all part of that design. Renault has stated that the car was designed in France and India. The company also went on to actually call it an SUV in the design presentation.
When it comes to what is on offer inside the car, Renault promises that the Kwid has room for five people and talks about an integrated infotainment system, including a 7-inch screen, Bluetooth and more. This is the same MediaNav system that we have seen earlier in the Lodgy and the Duster. Renault also confirmed that airbags will be available as an option. Renault says they believe in safety and the Kwid will meet all regulatory safety requirements. That’s a little disingenuous because the current Indian safety norms, as we know, are still quite weak compared to the global standards.
The engine that will power the Kwid is a naturally aspirated 4-valve, 3-cylinder petrol 800cc unit. Renault refers to the Hyundai Eon and Maruti Alto 800 as the benchmarks for this engine. The engine, says the company, is very simple but with the “best knowledge” the company could put inside it. That’s how the company expects to derive the best fuel consumption in the segment as well as have great ease of service. The transmission will be a 5-speed manual with an AMT also reportedly in the works. There will be no diesel engine for the Renault Kwid for the time being. The car weighs in at 670kg, lighter than the Hyundai Eon by 55kg and 25kg less than the Maruti Alto 800.
Speaking of fuel economy, Renault also boasts that the fuel economy of the Kwid will be higher than most of the segment. And here’s what everyone has been waiting to find out – the price will be between Rs 3 and 4 lakh. Kwid sales will start during the festive period this year.
The Kwid will be made at the Renault-Nissan Chennai factory, and as much as 98 per cent of the suppliers are Indian. Around 60 per cent content in the Kwid is wholly local supply, another 38 per cent is global suppliers with Indian presence The localisation was a strong push right from the beginning of the project. Renault says the Kwid is a global car, it is a global platform. The launch is in India because it is heavily localised and production is here. More importantly, Renault believes that the Kwid will face its biggest challenge here in India and the segment it enters is vast. The company says, that if “Kwid makes it in India” then the success should follow it to other countries too.
Renault wants to grow from 1.5 per cent market share, mostly based on the Duster. The brand intends to grow to 5 per cent on the shoulders of the Lodgy and the Kwid. Exports, says Ghosn, aren’t going to be a big part of the picture for the Kwid. India will be a hub, but for the region. That’s simply because the localisation is part of the cost advantage. If you take that away and ship the car, say to South America, it will not be viable, says Renault. Ghosn also clarified that the Kwid will not be badged Dacia or go to Europe.
Ghosn also says the alliance is “resolute” and intends to stay committed to learning the Indian market and thinks India is one of the biggest markets with intense growth potential and should become the world’s fourth largest car market in the next few years. Ghosn declared he hopes the success of the Kwid will show India how much they have learned about the domestic market.
Nissan will also use the same CMF-A platform to develop cars for their portfolio. Ghosn clarified that both Renault and Nissan paid for the platform and therefore both have access to the platform. The Nissan design will obviously be developed between India and Japan and therefore Ghosn expects the results to be quite different as and when that car arrives. Is it going be a close sibling to Kwid? The way earlier Renault and Nissan cars have been? Ghosn categorically said no. The next car from the CMF-A platform will be a Datsun coming next year, most likely the redi-Go showcased at the Auto Expo 2014.
The Kwid project has been in the process for three years. Amongst the learnings from India to other countries are very short loop cycles to update and change. As in the ability to react quickly and change a component to derive specific benefits. The project leader said another learning was to bring in suppliers even before the drawings were complete. This resulted in a learning where the development process minimised the investment required on the part of the supplier, which led to cost benefits further down the line. Renault says they changed a lot of parts during the process so that suppliers too could manufacture them with existing assets. In 18 months the design was created rupee-by-rupee, hand-in-hand with the suppliers. This, Renault, says wouldn’t be possible in Europe.