Japanese car maker Nissan India on Thursday unveiled its maiden sub 4 metre compact SUV Magnite, which is expected to hit the roads in India by September this year. Magnite will go head to head against Maruti Brezza and Hyundai Venue in one of the most competitive segments in the market.
The launch of the vehicle, which can be a make or break model for the company in India, is likely to coincide with another potential blockbuster product in the same segment-the Kia Sonet, before the onset of the festive season this year. In fiscal 2020, Nissan sold less than 5,000 units in India registering a 34 per cent decline over the previous year. Sale of Datsun, its sub brand, also halved to just 13,101 units which gave the company cumulative sales of under 18,000 units, an over 50 per cent decline during the year. Its market-share is a miniscule 0.65 per cent. All hopes rest on the Magnite for a change in the fortunes of the company.
"The Nissan Magnite is an evolutionary leap in Nissan's global SUV DNA. With cutting-edge technology onboard, it will be a game-changer in its segment. A bold offering in the sub-four-meter category, we are confident that Nissan Magnite will redefine the B-SUV segment for the industry. The Nissan Magnite is made on the philosophy of 'Make in India, Make for the World' and has been designed in Japan while keeping in mind the requirements and aspirations of Indian customers," said Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Nissan Motor India.
Magnite is a portmanteau of the words "magnetic" and "ignite". The car is likely to be powered by a 1 litre three cylinder petrol engine that also does duty in alliance partner Renault's Triber MPV. This engine has a peak power output of 72 PS and torque of 96 NM. A new 1 litre turbocharged petrol engine with a higher power output of 95 PS could also be used additionally. It will have a range of transmission options including manual, AMT and CVT automatic gearboxes.
Like market leader Maruti which discontinued the diesel engine in the Brezza when the BS VI norms came into effect in April this year, Magnite would also not get a diesel option. It could put it at a disadvantage against the likes of Hyundai, Kia, Tata and Mahindra. The Renault Nissan alliance has a 480,000 unit per annum factory in the outskirts of Chennai. The Indian passenger vehicle market declined by 17 per cent to 2.77 million units in the year. The alliance had a capacity utilisation of just 42 per cent in the country.
The craze for compact SUVs - loosely defined as vehicles that like small cars measure no longer than 4 metres but have a higher stance and better road presence - has shown no signs of abating in India. At a time when the domestic automobile industry is in the midst of its worst slowdown in almost half a decade - sales declined by over 17 percent in 2019-20 - this segment is an outlier.
In the last six years, sale of compact SUVs has grown at an average 84 per cent every year, against just 2.52 per cent for passenger cars in general and 9.6 per cent for overall utility vehicle segment in the country. In 2012/13, the segment accounted for just 16,000 units, but in 2019/20, over 400,000 compact SUVs were sold in the country.