Head, South Asia Sales Unit, Nissan Motor India
As the head of the South Asia Sales Unit of Nissan Motor India, Raghunath Nair looks after exports from India and the overall sales and marketing of South Asia. He has been associated with Nissan for over 20 years across various verticals, positions and countries. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Calicut and is certified in Executive General Management from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Nair was in Nepal recently to unveil the Nissan Magnite AMT at the NADA Auto Show and spoke to Business 360 about the recent launch and future strategies of the company. Excerpts:
Could you tell us about the global automobile industry in general, and the market in Nepal particularly?
Currently, electric vehicles (EVs) have started dominating the global automobile market. Even in Nepal, we can see that EVs have gradually started making a mark. I believe that certain policies introduced by the government here have helped boost the EV market in the country. This is possible because the EV market is quite nascent and the overall market is also comparatively smaller, so when the number of customers is small it is easier to make the desired changes. I would say Nepal is blessed with this fact. Having said that, I must add that a lot still needs to be done here but looking at the current trend I am definite Nepal will make remarkable changes in the near future.
Do you think Nepal is ready for electric vehicles?
Nepal has huge hydropower surplus so from this point of view, this is one of the biggest assets. However, the government must prioritise developing other advanced and accessible infrastructure like charging stations that are necessary for the growth of the EV market. Realising the importance of infrastructure, Nissan has brought a new e-POWER technology of extremes. e-POWER is Nissan’s unique electric-drive powertrain that integrates a gasoline engine and motor achieving an overwhelming power and excellent quietness of high level. I would also like to announce that Nepal is going to be the first market in South Asia to get this extreme power.
There are concerns on how batteries will be managed once they expire. How is Nissan looking into this aspect?
We give safety and security the utmost priority and it is in Nissan’s culture to be prepared beforehand. For instance, prior to launching our model Leaf, we had made all the preparations and taken care of the entire technological aspects which made it easier for us to manage everything. Till date, we have faced no issue regarding the Leaf’s battery. We provide an eight-year warranty on our batteries and we also ensure that other infrastructural needs associated with our vehicles are properly managed.
I believe Nepal has the potential to develop the required infrastructure, especially in battery management. Moreover, the batteries may not be fit for automobiles when they expire but can still be used as inverters. So, even after batteries expire, they can be utilised as an alternative source of power supply. Nissan has done considerable work on this front and we have used expired batteries as a source of power supply in numerous villages across India. Nissan has adopted a holistic approach to battery management and I can assure you that we will be doing the same in Nepal.
How do you assess your collaboration with your local partner, Pioneer Moto Corp?
Our collaboration with Pioneer Moto Corp has been amazing. Pioneer has made concerted efforts to establish a reliable network of dealer throughout Nepal. There are many joint initiatives we have launched with Pioneer and it has been a genuine partner.
For example, we recently introduced a joint initiative called Customer and Sales Satisfaction and this collaborative effort did really pay off well. The vision that the Pioneer management has and its unwavering support in our initiatives have helped us maintain consistency with regards to Nissan’s brand recognition.
We at Nissan always put our customers first and Pioneer has adopted and prioritised this strategy. It has understood the importance of customer satisfaction and worked really hard. I am happy with the relationship that we have developed with Pioneer over the years.
What I would also like to mention is we consider every market as an important one and we do not provide any special services as such to only a few certain markets. We have set global standards for all the services we deliver, so whatever services that Nissan in India provides we provide the same in Nepal too.
Nissan recently signed UN empowerment principles. How do you implement this in Nepal and India?
Nissan has always prioritised and accorded importance to diversity. Diversity is one of the key pillars of the strategy that we have adopted across the region. Nissan has long supported initiatives that provide opportunities for women’s advancement in a traditionally male-dominated industry. These include specific female talent development initiatives, a woman leadership programme, and a framework to support employees balancing work with childcare, nursing care and other activities. As a result, the percentage of female managers at Nissan globally has increased from 6.7% in 2008 to 15.5% as of March 2023.
Women comprise 10.4% of Nissan’s management in Japan, where the manufacturing industry average is 5.1% for companies with 1,000 or more employees. If you look into the workforce in Nepal, yesterday I was talking to the wholesale executives and the top three executives were female. Therefore, we are trying our best to become more inclusive and diverse.
Tell us about some recent and future launches?
Recently, we launched Magnite AMT which is an automatic variant of Magnite. This was launched during the NADA Auto Show 2023. We also will be launching the globally successful model X Trail e-POWER within 2023.
If we talk about our future launches in Nepal, we have eight new models coming in the market of which we have two new SUVs, two EVs and the facelift of our most loved SUV in Nepal, Magnite.