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After watching the Tata Nano post sales numbers smaller than its engine displacement, Renault gave up on its much publicized intention to build a truly inexpensive car to rival it. Then, a month ago, reports emerged that Renault was resuming work on a couple of low-priced cars for emerging markets, but this time it would work with its in-house partner, Nissan. That plan envisions an offering for €3,000 ($3,888 US) and another for €5,000 ($6,400 US), both of which would be more spendy than the Nano but might avoid the charge of being cheap - and nasty - and instead be considered affordable.
A report in Reuters talks to the man in charge, Gerard Detourbet, who has been in Chennai, India since at least August working on the program. Detourbet led the Dacia Logan project and is considered "Renault's low-cost car specialist" and "the father of entry-car programs." This one is reportedly codenamed A-Entry and will create a "'sub-entry' architecture" that will provide roominess beyond the vehicle's price and class, and use an engine with a displacement of 800 cubic centimeters.
It isn't aimed at the Nano, though - it means to take on the products that make up 45-50 percent of India's car market, like the Maruti Suzuki Alto and Hyundai Eon. According to Reuters, out of the 2.6-million-strong Indian car market the Maruti Suzuki line-up alone nabs one million registrations annually. The Alto 800 begins at 244,000 rupees ($4,440 US), the Eon at 300,000 rupees ($5,559 US), the Chevrolet Spark at about 316,000 ($5,750 US); if Renault can nail its price targets it will just about bracket those three and be right in the game.
Suzuki of Japan has reportedly made the decision that almost everyone assumed it would make when it announced it was leaving the US market: when the 2014 model year concludes, it will no longer sell cars in Canada. With six employees overseeing its auto business in Canada and a dealer network that has shrunk to 55 outlets in the country, we can't say we're shocked.
At the time of the US announcement, however, the senior VP of sales and marketing in the automotive division of Suzuki Canada said it would be able to survive on its own because, among other reasons, Canadians prefer smaller, more fuel-efficient cars that fit the company's offerings. Five months later, after some time to think about a 30-percent drop in sales to open up 2013 instead of the 1.4-percent increase in sales that Suzuki Canada posted last year, things have evidently changed.
The Globe and Mail reports that as is in the US, Suzuki's motorcycle, ATV and marine divisions in Canada will remain.
Suzuki's plant in Manesar, India builds cars for Australia, specifically its Alto small car. Or at least they were building cars before violent worker riots forced the factory to close. The plant has been idled for five weeks as a result of worker violence that led to the death of one manager and 95 injuries. The riot was spurred over a labor dispute - specifically, a gulf in salaries between temporary workers and their salaried counterparts who earn triple the contract workers' wages.
According to reports, on Tuesday, the factory re-opened with more than 1,200 police officers stationed around the plant. The staff of actual workers at the plant numbers just 75 currently, meaning the police force greatly outnumbers Suzuki employees.
The number of employees will eventually grow to 300, and the officers will run in shifts of 100 at a time, but the initial disparity of workers to police is meant as a show of force to the more than 500 permanent and 500 temporary workers who were found to be involved in a July 18 riot.