Renault Nepal has launched a new variant of Renault KWID hatchback in the Nepali market. The car with powerful 1.0 liter Smart Control Efficiency (SCe) engine was launched amid a function in Kathmandu on Wednesday. Republica talked to Nikunj Agrawal, the managing director of Advanced Automobiles Pvt Ltd - the authorized distributor of Renault in Nepal, to know more about Renault and its performance in Nepal. Excerpts:
Please tell us something about Renault?
Renault is an international multi-brand group which has been making cars since 1898. The company has sold more than 2.8 million vehicles in 125 countries by the end of 2015. It has 36 manufacturing sites. Renault employs more than 120,000 people worldwide. To meet the technological challenges and continue the strategy of profitable growth, we are harnessing the development and the complementary fit of the company's three different brands.
How has been the performance of Renault in Nepal?
Nepal is a good market for automobiles. Our sale was growing amazingly well in the first few months since the launch of Renault in the Nepali market. But the decision of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to tighten lending on purchase of personal vehicles has hit our business very hard. The decision permits banks to provide loan of up to 50 percent of the valuation of car only. This has affected sale of all automobile dealers.
What do you think gives KWID an edge over other similar cars available in the market?
The pricing of our vehicle is incomparable with other brands. Similarly, cars of other companies do not have the technologies that we have used in KWID. The off-road hatchback is very economical. It will be very suitable to drive in the hilly region. We believe it is a perfect car for Nepalis.
Renault entered the Nepali market few months ago only. So what are the company's plans to enhance its presence here?
At present, we have eight dealerships in the country. Our plan is to add 20 more dealers by mid-April next year. We are sure that Renault will be a successful brand in Nepal as it has already become a strong brand in the Indian subcontinent. Though launched only five years ago, Renault is already among the top four automobile brands in India. Our plan is to sell 3,000 units of Renault cars in Nepal by mid-April 2018.
What have been your challenges in Nepal?
Automobile sector is the biggest revenue generating sector for the government. The government should realize that tightening of lending to this sector has affected the automobile sector, and take needful decision on the issue. Economic growth of any country depends on automobile and steel industry. If these two sectors do well, than the economy automatically grows and vice versa. But the government has not put automobile sector in priority. I think the government should find a perfect solution to the lending problem by holding a meeting with Nepal Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA) as soon as possible. If NRB delays to find any permanent solution to lending problem, it could affect country's economic growth.