Renault and the Indian market

Formula 1's love affair with India is currently in its passionate phase, with the paddock awash with Indian reporters, stacking up to interview Narain Karthikeyan and to encourage Bernie Ecclestone to find somewhere to have an F1 race in India. Karthikeyan, to give him credit, has done the best job of all the new boys. He has kept out of trouble and done a good solid job, rather better than had been expected. The importance of India is, of course, all about numbers because with one billion people India can boost F1's TV viewing numbers and potential bring in new sponsors keen to make squillions by selling their products to the country's middle classes.

Renault wants to get into the Indian market with its low-cost Logan model, which is badged as a Dacia and will sell for less than $5000. The company has just signed a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the Mumbai-based automobile manufacturer to establish Mahindra Renault Ltd with the aim of producing 50,000 cars a year starting in 2007 and selling them through the Mahindra network of dealerships. This might be useful for Karthikeyan as he looks to move up in F1 and the possibility exists for a second team to use Renault engines in 2006.

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