Nissan India will launch an SUV based on the Renault Duster at around Diwali 2013. The Nissan SUV based on the Duster is expected to feature stylistic changes with inspiration coming from the X-Trail SUV. Apart from the changes in styling, the mechanical bits and interiors of Nissan’s Duster based SUV is expected to closely resemble that of the Renault model. Expect the 1.5 Liter K9K turbo diesel engine to be the bulwark of the Nissan Duster based SUV. All in all, the Nissan Duster based SUV is expected to be a badge engineered version of the Renault Duster, the same way in which Renault has used Nissan cars like the Micra and the Sunny to spawn the Pulse and the Scala.
Nissan coming up with an SUV could give the powers that be at Ford India sleepless nights and here’s why. Nissan and Renault follow different pricing strategies in India with Nissan’s car models undercutting Renault models by about INR 50,000. So, the same is expected to be the case with the Nissan’s Duster based SUV as well. Given that the Ford EcoSport is expected to make use of its sub-4 meter length advantage to get classified as a small car in India, thus saving about INR 70,000 on its list price, the cut price Nissan Duster based SUV could tackle the Ford EcoSport with an attractive price.
So, things could get very exciting for the compact SUV buyer by the end of this year. One danger however remains, and the danger we’re talking about is cannibalization. A lower priced Nissan based Duster could cannibalize sales of the Renault Duster instead of growing the overall sales of the Duster. Given that Nissan has a stronger dealership network in India, the possibility of cannibalization remains very distinct. So, it’ll be interesting to see how Renault and Nissan manage to hammer out specifics of selling what is essentially the same SUV, under two different brands and at two different price points.
We’ve seen this happen with the likes of the Volkswagen Vento and the Skoda Rapid, with both the cars barely managing to grow the overall sales of the sedan. In the next couple of months, Renault India is expected to launch the 4X4 version of the Duster SUV, and this move from Renault could result in the Duster being priced dangerously close to the Mahindra XUV500. So, the space for a well priced Duster based SUV from Nissan does exist.