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9.2.11

It's going to be curtains down for French carmaker Renault at Mahindra dealerships as the two companies chart out independent plans after their divorce last year. As Renault prepares for its solo run in the Indian market, Mahindra also gears up to sell the Logan with a new name, sans the Renault tag and its diamond-shaped logo.

Mahindra and Renault had last year dissolved their JV - Mahindra Renault Pvt Ltd (MRPL) - after poor response to the no-frills Logan that had failed to enthuse the market and saw the two partners blame each other for the dismal performance. Mahindra bought out Renault's 49% equity in MRPL, gaining full control over the company.

"The transition will happen very soon," Mahindra's automotive sector president Pawan Goenka.
 He said the Renault tag will be removed from Mahindra dealerships that were selling the Logan and had 'Renault' brand name inscribed on the outside. "There were around 150 dealerships that were having this joint branding (Mahindra and Renault). The Renault brand will now come down."

Importantly, the company is now working out an all-new effort for the Logan, the first and only product born out of the failed JV. "We are not entitled to continue with the Logan brand, as well as the name and diamond brand sign of Renault. Thus, we will be having a new branding for the car, and this will also happen very soon," Goenka said.

Mahindra had been in-charge of the sales and distribution of the car from the beginning while the product know-how came from Renault's side.

Logan will now be Mahindra's first and solo product in the passenger car segment. The company has a two-pronged strategy for the car - developing a new re-styled version on the one hand, while also developing a new lower-price version of the model. Mahindra will reduce the length and other specifications of the car for the cheaper variant to fit it into the small car definition and to attract lower excise duty. Renault is also padding up for its new run. The company has decided to set up its own independent sales and distribution network. It plans to have 70 outlets by 2013.

Also, it will launch its first two products soon - the Koleos SUV and the Fluence sedan - both of which would come to India through the completely-knocked down route and be assembled at the company's factory near Chennai.

The company will quickly follow up with three more products next year, that would include a small car. "We have a plan to sell 70,000 cars annually by 2014," a senior company official said.

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