Date:20/03/2005 URL: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/bline/iw/2005/03/20/stories/2005032000621500.htm
Back Log on to Logan

S. Muralidhar

COME 2007 and there would be one more contender vying for the entry-level car buyer's attention. In what could be an uncomfortably crowded marketplace for cars in this segment, the new entrant that will jostle for space will be the Renault Logan.

Renault, it is expected, will make no bones about the Logan being an entry-level, compact sedan. The new car will be manufactured and marketed in India, courtesy a 49:51 joint venture company that Renault will set up in collaboration with Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M). The new entity, Mahindra Renault Ltd, will build a brand new car assembly and manufacturing facility at a cost of Rs 700 crore.

The French automobile company designed, developed and manufactured the Logan in alliance with Dacia, the Romanian carmaker that the former had acquired. The Logan has already been tested, manufactured and launched in markets such as Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey, Serbia and Lebanon. It will be launched in another 20 new markets, including Russia, Morocco and India, during the next two years. Renault is going to market this car even in the developed markets of Western Europe.

M&M will roll out this car with its international name intact, but will attempt to launch it with at least 50 per cent of the components being sourced locally. M&M already has an ongoing procurement alliance with the French company, under which, the former sources petrol engines for its utility vehicle — Scorpio. Engineering work for developing a right hand drive version of the Logan has already commenced and the version being developed could be taken to other markets too.

Renault and Dacia developed the Logan specially to cater to emerging automotive markets such as India. The car's focus is expected to be affordable pricing, reliability, low running costs and durability. Many of these and other attributes of the Logan, such as a sufficiently tall ride height, easy entry and exit, fuel-efficient engine and extra-large boot volume (all of 510 litres), will be appealing to Indian car buyers in the entry-level sedan category.

Logan promises to be competitively priced and inexpensive to run. Renault has fine-tuned the technology to make it possible to extend the intervals between services for the car. For instance, the oil, spark plugs and air filter in the Logan are changed only every 30,000 km in many of the markets that the car is currently available. Simple, practical techniques for easy servicing have also been incorporated in the car, such as making the headlamp bulbs easily reachable from the engine compartment, so that customers can change them themselves.

In the markets that it is currently being sold in, the Logan is available either with a 75 bhp, 1.4 litre petrol or a 90 bhp, 1.6 litre petrol engine. Renault is planning to launch the Logan with a 65 bhp 1.5 litre dCi diesel engine option by early 2006. The choice of engines for the Indian version of the Logan has not been announced as yet. But the diesel option, if it makes it here, will give the car a big boost in this fuel-economy conscious market.

If M&M can pull it off and bring the Logan with quality and pricing comparable to the car's versions currently available in Europe (prices average at about Euro 7,000), then budget sedan buyers here are in for a treat. But with two years to go before the Logan hits the roads, the dynamics of the market may witness a lot more changes.

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