For the past 12 years, Renault has enjoyed an incredible worldwide success with its line-up of low-cost models, which are marketed under the Dacia brand in Europe and North Africa, and under the Renault brand in most other markets like Russia, South America, Arabia and India. In fact, these low-cost models currently comprise as much as 46% of worldwide sales for the combined Renault and Dacia brands. In India, the Duster had been the most successful Renault model so far, but the French carmaker has really shaken up the Indian car market when it launched the Kwid small car there last year. The Kwid is slightly larger than the European Twingo, and has a higher ride height, giving it a sort of mini-crossover look. Initially only produced in India and launched there, the Kwid has become an instant hit, with 70.000 orders in the first two months of sales, while Renault’s previous sales record in India stood at less than 45.000 sales in 2014. Production capacity was quickly upgraded to 10.000 units a month and so far Renault has sold every Kwid it could build in India, helping the French brand to a record 4th place in April, ahead of local manufacturer Tata. The model itself has stormed up the Indian sales charts as well, rising quickly to the segment 2nd place, ahead of the Hyundai Eon and unsuccessful Tata Nano, and closing in quickly on the perennial overall sales leader in India: the Maruti (Suzuki) Alto, which suffered a drop of 23% in dealer orders in April, possibly as dealers expect the Alto to suffer from competition from the Kwid in coming months.
As I mentioned in my article on Tesla vs. Fisker, Elon Musk takes great use of Twitter as a marketing machine. Some of his comments have had an immediate (positive) impact on the Tesla stock price, or on the Tesla brand perception. He (or is it his team?) also contributes to the blog on the teslamotors.com website.
With the recent media coverage of 3 Tesla Model S catching fire within 6 weeks time, all of them after impact that punctured the battery compartment, Tesla stock has taken a big hit, and yet again Musk was quick to respond. However, he is taking a very liberal approach to statistics and risking a kickback from a bold claim.
Tesla’s reaction to the fires
He has written a lengthy article in the Tesla blog, revealing 3 actions Tesla is taking:
- An update to the air suspension, which is done wireless to the vehicle’s computer, to increase the ride height at highway speeds, reducing the chances of underbody impact damage.
- Musk announced that any damage as a result of a Tesla Model S fire, even due to driver error, will be covered by the warranty. He is smart enough to make the reservation that a deliberate attempt to destroy the vehicle is not covered. He is talking to Americans after all, the same people who need a warning sticker to tell them their airbag may hurt them while saving their lives.
- Tesla claims to have requested an investigation by the NHTSA, National Highway Safety Administration, not only to make sure there’s no safety defect to the cars and to prove Musk’s statement that the Model S is safe, but also to shut down any negative publicity of people parroting about the fires, without knowing what really happened. However, NHTSA denies this claim and says that they initiated the investigation after the third fire.
If Musk’s claim about who initiated the safety investigation proves to be “a bit overstated”, it may hurt his credibility in the future. For someone who is known for his bold claims, credibility is key, or he will make a fool of himself. [Read more…]