French carmaker Renault is banking on its latest offering, the Triber, to provide the necessary firepower to fight the ongoing slump in the Indian auto sector. When asked if the new model will help the brand buck the trend and improve sales, company CEO and MD Venkatram Mamillapalle said, “Definitely, we have no doubts about it. We are witnessing good traction and the model is surely helping us (improve sales).”
The brand began to accept bookings for the Renault Triber around mid-August this year and launched the vehicle on August 28. While a true indicator of its demand will emerge in September – its first full month of sales – the Triber has already cushioned Renault's sales decline. It sold 2,490 units in August and Renault's total passenger vehicle sales stood at 5,704 units (down 13 percent, year-on-year). In July, volumes had plummeted by 41 percent to 3,660 units. These sales figures are the number of dispatches to the dealers – carmakers in India report wholesale numbers and not retail. Moreover, as we reported earlier, Renault plans to intensify its efforts in the rural areas as it sees good growth potential in these markets.
Two crucial aspects of this seven-seater that are undoubtedly expected to drive interest are its aggressive launch price and cabin space, despite being restricted to a 4m length.
Renault launched the Triber at an aggressive price of Rs 4.95-6.49 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India). The seven-seat model is available in four variants and comes with one engine (an uprated version of Kwid's 1.0-litre petrol) and one gearbox (5-speed manual) on offer. The carmaker has worked closely with suppliers to develop a vehicle that is built to cost. In fact, the Triber offers quality levels that are right up there with some of the pricier compact SUVs. “We have worked to a great extent with the customers and suppliers and designed to cost and quality. There are four variants – each one at a gap of Rs 50,000, which is by design. And we have engaged our suppliers right from the design stage to come to the level, both on perceived quality as well as on the cost side,” Mamillapalle said. He added that the price is not just temporary and will hold for a while.
Interestingly, Mamillapalle reveals that the Triber is attracting a lot of new customers to the Renault brand; and not just existing customers looking to upgrade. “The customers are absolutely new because of its features, the spaciousness and flexibility that it offers," he said. The Triber is built on Renault’s modular CMF-A+ platform, which also underpins the Kwid hatchback. Renault has managed to stretch the wheelbase to 2,636mm so as to maximise cabin room, and we've been told designers have fought for every millimetre of space. The model measures 3,990mm in length, 1,739mm in width and 1,643mm in height.
The Triber carries huge potential for Renault and while the lack of an automatic variant will be felt, it still offers a significantly compelling package for its price tag. This seven-seater has a lot running on its shoulders – not just because of the current downturn but also because sales of other Renault models (such as the Kwid) have slowed over time. Even demand for the Duster, which was once a volume grosser, has failed to pick-up amidst intensifying competition. It will be interesting to see how the Renault Triber performs in the near-term and whether it has the chops to pull the automaker out of its slump.