Renault Duster: The Car You Know, The Story You Don’t

Renault Duster: The Car You Know, The Story You Don't

A vehicle is more than just a way of transportation; it is something that becomes a part of the family. And this is the reason why there are certain models that become immortal throughout the years, thanks to the unlimited love that they receive from consumers. One such vehicle is the Renault Duster; an SUV that redefined the segment back in 2012 and which proudly completes a decade in 2022. So here’s the Duster you know, the story you don’t:

Before The Renault Duster Was Born

The 2012 Renault Duster // Credits: Motor Beam
  • While it was in 2012, that Renault decided to bring in the Duster to India, what happened 2 years before the decision is what’s the real core of the Duster’s success in India.
  • The failure of Renault Logan reminded the OEM of the importance of understanding the potential consumer base. With all the lessons learnt, Renault went back to scratch in a bid to understand the consumers. It identified as many as 30 families from among 200 people focus groups across five Indian cities for a holistic survey.
  • During a two-month period, the company observed the target group, observed them, and took note of their needs as to what they wanted and did not like in their vehicles. The data was then compiled and as many as 41 modifications were made to the European Duster, to meet the Indian consumer’s needs. This kind of market research was a rare thing for any OEM to adopt.Also Read: Renault Pulls The Plug On The Duster After 10 Years

The Changes Identified

The 2012 Renault Duster’ Interiors // Credits: Motor Beam
  • The target group study conducted by Renault revealed some major findings. The study showed that Indian customers were avid fans of chrome treatment on the exterior, and preferred body-coloured bumpers and dual-tone interiors. They also wanted power window switches on the door rather than on the centre console. And since a majority of Indian cars are driven by chauffeurs, Indian preferred comfortable and inclined back seats with rear AC vents, power outlets, reading light, and armrest as well.
  • Since the European Duster did not possess all of these, Renault took the step to redesign the European Duster to make suitable changes. The first was the redesigned suspension to tackle rough Indian terrain while the second was higher ground clearance.
  • Further, more brackets were added to the car’s doors as Indians tend to use them roughly. The heart of the compact SUV was also re-tuned to meet Indian fuel requirements and deliver a mileage of about 20 to 22 km per litre. The engine retuning was specially done in Paris with Indian diesel shipped directly to correctly fine-tune the powertrain.
  • In early 2011, Renault then conducted a “customer clinic” in New Delhi to revalidate its finding before launching the Duster. It showcased the prototype of the redesigned European Duster head-on with the Rivals and an approximate price bracket of 7 to 12 Lakhs and then asked potential buyers for its review after signing a confidentiality agreement with the OEM.Checkout: Next-Gen Renault Duster Might Launch In India?

The Changes Made

Renault Duster 2014
  • After receiving a positive head start from the customer clinic, Renault started making actual changes to the Duster with a 3F strategy that included, “Fast (the adaptation to Indian needs must happen within 12 months), Frugal (on a limited budget) and Fantastic (with no compromise on quality),” as per Karim Mikkiche, then Managing Director, Renault Nissan Technology & Business Centre India, whose team executed the changes to the car.
  • The 3F changes were achieved locally with the help of a locally curated team of experts. The changes were made within a year and within the budget, giving birth to what we know as the Duster today. While there were a lot of challenges faced, Renault was determined to carry out the changes as that was what the Indian market required.Must Read: Renault Duster vs Dacia Duster | Are we missing something out?

The Renault Duster was Born

Renault Duster Launch
  • Against all odds, the OEM was successful in making all required changes within a year and in January 2012 the Duster was showcased with a full-fledged 9 city launch in July 2012. The stage was set and it was then time for the Duster’s report card.
  • The Duster not only exceeded expectations but went on to be awarded as Indian Car of The Year 2012 and the Car of the Year by NDTV (CAR & Bike). Renault too was also awarded as the Car Manufacturer of the Year by (NDTV Car & Bike). Since then the success story of the Renault duster has become a marketing lesson in several B-Schools to date.
  • The Success of the Duster was so huge that within a year of its launch, the Duster captured 23% of the market share. The Duster also became 86% of Renault’s total production, 81% of its sales, and 100% of its exports. The success of the Duster was so huge, that Renault had to triple up its production within a year of the Duster’s launch.
  • Till today, the Renault Duster is a success story that only a few cars have managed to witness. The pains taken by Renault to understand the market is what makes the Duster a massive success.

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