Renault unveils small car 'Pulse'; plans January launch

Renault India, a fully owned subsidiary of France's Renault SA, on Saturday unveiled its much-anticipated new small car, the Pulse, which it plans to start selling from January, competing with bigger rivals such as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Hyundai Motor Co and Tata Motors Ltd in Asia's third-biggest automobile market.

The Pulse, Renault's third vehicle in India, was launched at a glittering event at Noida near Delhi, attended by F1 drivers Mark Webber and Karun Chandok. It will mark the automaker's entry into the high volume small-car market which makes up nearly two-thirds of passenger vehicle sales in India. It is also a part of the company's plans to introduce five car models by the end of next year.

The Renault Pulse has been designed for India at Renault`s design centre in Mumbai. "India is one of the key markets for us along with Brazil and Russia. This Pulse is designed and produced for Indian drivers," Carlos Tavares, chief operating officer of Renault, told reporters. He said the company plans to sell 100,000 vehicles in India by 2013.

The Pulse will be available only in a 1.5-litre diesel variant. It shares its platform with Renault's Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co's V-platform. Nissan already sells its Micra small car based on this platform.

The car will be manufactured at a factory near Chennai in Tamil Nadu which the company jointly owns with Nissan. The factory opened in March last year with an initial annual capacity of 200,000 cars.

Renault currently sells the Fluence sedan and Koleos sports-utility vehicle in India and plans to introduce another SUV, Duster, by mid-2012.