Chuya Hara is the Manager, AMI (Africa, Middle East, India) Sales Department, Nissan Motors Co. Hara joined Nissan in 2004 as In-charge of Asia & Oceania Sales & Marketing. With more than a decade of work experience, he was made in-charge of the South Asian market in addition to the African market since last year. During his recent visit to Nepal for the launch of Nissan Kicks, Chuya Hara talked with Ankita Jain of B360 about Nepal’s potential in the car industry, new launches by Nissan and more.
Since Kicks is a global product with some exclusive features, what kind of market is expected in Nepal?
We have rolled out our SUV by incorporating certain features for the domestic market. Manufactured in India, Kicks comes with a taller, wider and longer body, 360-degree parking view, Nissan Connect and a floating entertainment screen, among others. We are targeting 700-800 units per year. In Nepal, we are expecting a huge market. Kicks was first launched in Brazil. But the Indian version of Kicks is a different product. It is bigger with better performance. We recently launched Kicks in India and the response is good from the customers and media so far; now we are waiting for results in terms of volume. The vehicle, in Nepal, will be made available at an introductory price of Rs 47.9 lakhs. Nissan KICKS can also be personalised with 27 different accessory categories tailor-made as per customer requirements.
Which segment of cars will it be competing with?
I am in charge of South Asian market from last January. Talking about Nepal, the four-wheeler market here is stable in terms of demand. The infrastructure is getting better and hence I expect growth in the market. Further, the new vehicle would take on the likes of Hyundai Creta and Renault Duster. They are performing very well in Nepal. We put them as the benchmark for this segment. In terms of size, Kicks is larger than Creta in every dimension. Jeep is also one of the strong competitors in Nepal with Compass being launched recently.
Can we expect Nissan’s electric car, Leaf and other e-power vehicles and hybrids soon in the country?
The second generation Nissan Leaf, one of the top-selling electric cars in the world, will possibly make its Nepal debut later this year or early next year. We want to make sure that it is used by a lot of people. Currently, we have started the business in Japan, US and other developed countries. But we would also like to expand Leaf in mini markets like Nepal and Sri Lanka. The demand from the global market is very strong for Leaf and the production capacity of the battery is not matching the demand.
We introduced e-power in Japan last year and we received good response from customers. We even plan to introduce e-power in Nepal. But we plan to introduce EV first and then e-power. EV is expected to be launched here by 2020 and e-power by 2021 or 2022.
What are the challenges for business in South Asian markets?
The biggest challenge is the characteristics of the South Asian market which varies from one country to another. For instance, Nepal is more close to the Indian market and Sri Lanka is closer to the other Asian countries despite being so close to India. Nepali market is competitive and highly influenced by the Indian market while the market in Sri Lanka fluctuates because of the changing government policies.
Taking 2018 into consideration, Nepali market had the biggest portion for us in South Asia including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. So, percentage-wise the country contributes 70-80 % of the total sales.
What is the future of the car industry in Nepal?
The huge taxation in Nepal is a barrier. If the government reduces import duty then more volume can be expected. For example, in Nigeria, the government decided to promote local production and changed the tax structure. Import tax is still high but the local manufacturing tax is low and they also provide incentives. Such initiatives result in boosting the economy. This kind of policy can be applied in Nepal and other developing countries. It’s a win-win situation for the government and the industry.