In India, a diminished Nissan bets big on a small SUV

The Nissan Magnite Concept SUV will be the company’s first new vehicle in India in two years. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 August 2020

In India, a diminished Nissan bets big on a small SUV

  • Complicating matters, Nissan’s India sales outlets have almost halved in number from around 270 in 2018 as dealers walked away from the brand

NEW DELHI: By any measure, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. has had a dreadful run in India. A push to revive its lower-end Datsun brand flopped, sales have slumped 60 percent over the past five years and its sole plant in the country is operating way below capacity.
But the amount of money and energy that Nissan — battered by scandal and expecting a record
$4.5 billion annual operating loss — will spend to turn its fortunes around in India will hinge on the sales of one vehicle, its new Magnite compact SUV, three sources said.
The SUV may also determine how much heft Nissan will wield as it and alliance partner Renault thrash out their respective roles in the Indian market.
Unveiled this month and due to be launched either late this year or early 2021, the Magnite will be Nissan’s first new vehicle in India in two years. Moreover, it will be just one of three Nissan-branded models in the market after two others were pulled in April when tougher emission rules kicked in.
“Magnite will buy Nissan a couple of years to figure out a plan for India and the SUV’s success will determine whether it invests more or scales down operations,” said one source.
A second source called the sport-utility vehicle Nissan’s “last hope” to revive the brand in India.
Japan’s No. 2 automaker has, however, no plans to withdraw from India, where it has invested over $800 million, and discussions about strategy are ongoing, the sources said. They were not authorized to speak to media and declined to be identified.

HIGHLIGHTS

Nissan’s India sales have skidded 60% over last five years. Future India investment to hang on sales of Magnite SUV. Renault in talks with Nissan to lift India plant stake.

The Datsun brand is likely to be phased out as part of a global overhaul, they added. Nissan’s only other models in India are three Datsun cars.
Nissan said in a statement to Reuters it is committed to the Indian market and has a well-defined strategy for “a sustainable and profitable business.” It declined to comment on sales goals for the Magnite.
Nissan’s internal plans call for sales of 1,500 to 2,000 Magnites a month, the first source said — which if realized would exceed the average India monthly sales it achieved last business year with seven models.
The SUV will be priced “aggressively,” the sources said. Originally developed as a Datsun model, it is expected to have features typically seen in a mid-range car, including a touchscreen and cruise control.
But the market is difficult — demand has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and India’s compact SUV segment is crowded. The Magnite will also go head to head with models from industry leaders — Maruti Suzuki’s Brezza and Hyundai Motor’s Venue.
Complicating matters, Nissan’s India sales outlets have almost halved in number from around 270 in 2018 as dealers walked away from the brand.
India represents a particularly thorny market for Nissan as it and Renault drastically restructure in the wake of former leader Carlos Ghosn’s shock 2018 arrest and ouster.
To save resources, clarify decision-making and prevent overlap, the two firms have agreed to a “leader-follower” strategy in key markets where one spearheads operations and the other is more in the backseat.
Nissan, for example, is taking the lead in the US, China and Japan. But India is the sole major market where no such decision has been made, with the automakers saying they will coexist and compete.


Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

Updated 14 August 2020

Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

  • Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid
  • Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments

DUBAI: UAE national carrier Emirates SkyCargo plans to ramp up its freighter operations to Lebanon with 50 flights to deliver emergency relief in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed nearly 200 people.
Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid, state news agency WAM reported.
The Emirates Airline Foundation will coordinate shipments of urgent food, medical supplies with NGO partners to ensure donations directly help those affected on the ground.
Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments, underscoring its commitment to expedite emergency relief efforts to Beirut.
“Today, the world is banding together to stand in solidarity with Lebanon, providing urgent relief and immediate recovery support to those affected by this tragic disaster,” Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, said. 
“Emirates supports the UAE’s ongoing humanitarian efforts to support Lebanon and is committed to bolster its global emergency response to ensure that it can support organizations which provide urgent care, shelter, food and medical support to the Lebanese people,” he added. 
Emirates said that it had dispatched several charter flights carrying food, clothing and medical supplies donated by various grassroots organizations in the UAE to Lebanon.