MUMBAI, FEB 16:
Former Renault India chief, Marc Nassif, is heading out to Morocco as Group CEO in the coming weeks.
Nassif was Managing Director of the French automaker’s India operations from 2008-14. Over the last two years, he has spent time at headquarters in Paris overseeing international engineering operations across Brazil, South Korea, Spain, India, Romania, Turkey, Morocco, Colombia, Russia and Argentina.
From Nassif’s point of view, the new assignment would almost seem like an India homecoming considering that the plant in Tangier was inspired by the Chennai facility’s manufacturing processes. Teams from Morocco had visited Chennai on a number of occasions to understand and replicate some of the systems there prior to its commissioning in 2012.
The other Renault plant Morocco is located at Casablanca and as Group CEO, Nassif will endeavour to grow the market share beyond the present level of 40 per cent. The models sold in the country include the Logan, Sandero and Lodgy multipurpose vehicle.
The Tangier plant has been earmarked as an important manufacturing hub and cars produced here head out to Africa, the Middle-East and Europe. It also supplies vehicle body parts to Renault operations in India, Russia, Brazil and Colombia. The older Casablanca plant meets the local market’s needs of models like the Logan and Sandero.
It will be interesting to see how Nassif puts in place a plan to increase the scope of Tangier which, like Chennai, has been identified as a Renault-Nissan facility. Unlike Chennai, though, there is nothing substantial yet from Nissan in terms of product investments.
Going forward, everything will eventually boil down to global market dynamics of demand and supply. In India, for instance, Nissan is among the largest car exporters even while its domestic market share is little to write home about.
Nassif, who has been with Renault for a little over three decades, had a particularly memorable stint in India where the high point of his tenure was the successful showing of the Duster SUV. Prior to this, though, he had put in place a strong foundation for the company following the parting of ways with Mahindra & Mahindra in the Logan joint venture.
Commissioning the Chennai plant was not a cakewalk thanks to the global slowdown of 2008-09 which forced all automakers to cut back on investments. Nassif and his team then began the ‘step-by-step’ approach to rebuilding an India presence.
The lessons learnt from the Logan setback were critical especially when it came to thinking local for global needs. This paved the way for a strong local R&D and engineering base to keep costs in check.
The first round of product launches like the Fluence and Koleos did not set the sales charts afire and neither did the Pulse and Scala. However, the heady market response to the Duster boosted Renault’s presence in the SUV space and soon India become a hot contender for its top 15 markets worldwide.
Nassif wrapped up his tenure just when the company was preparing for its next big thing in the form of the Kwid which was launched last year and has already received over one lakh bookings.