Ever wondered why the Renault Duster and the Nissan Terrano look so similar? Well, that's because they're exactly the same vehicle, but sold under two different brand names. So what's the deal?
What's going on is called badge engineering or rebadging, which is the practice of applying a new badge to an existing vehicle and marketing and selling it as a different model. We'll highlight the reasons for rebadging in the auto industry, along with its advantages and disadvantages and some examples of badge engineered models in the Indian market.
There are varying degrees of rebadging, with the first being only an emblem or logo change. It progresses to the second degree where the new model receives minor modification to styling elements and interior trim, for example, and the third leading up to mechanical modification - although seen much less often.
- To reduce new model development and manufacturing costs. It is much cheaper to retool manufacturing equipment for minor styling modifications rather than invest in new machinery required for the production of an entirely new car.
- A new model costs around INR 500-800 crore to develop, whereas retooling costs a fraction that, at around 20 crores.
- Economies of scale improved because cars can be manufactured using the same parts bin.
- Excessive badge engineering can be detrimental to a manufacturer's sales because the selling costs increase with more models, since these ‘new' models often necessitate separate dealership networks.
- If the marketing of badge engineered models goes wrong, these cars may not be able to carve out separate-enough identities and could work against the manufacturer, as it would cannibalise sales of the donor model, or vice versa.
1. Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano
The first of the Renault-Nissan rebadged cars is the Renault Duster, which is sold in badge-engineered form as the Nissan Terrano. If you're not fussy about the Terrano's slight styling improvements, you could save almost a lakh of rupees if you pick the Duster over the Terrano.
That's because the Duster is positioned lower in the market, with the top RXz Option Pack variant selling at an on-road Delhi price of INR 13,66,799, as compared to the similarly-specced Terrano XV Premium which retails at INR 14,56,876.
2. Tata Indica and CityRover
Did you know the Tata Indica was sold in Britain at one stage, between 2003 and 2005? Fact of the matter was it was marketed and sold as the CityRover under the Rover brand in the UK.
The CityRover infamously topped the UK publication Auto Express' list of the 10 Worst Cars of the Last 25 Years, because of its deemed-high GBP 7,000 price and ‘lamentable build quality.' However, the car did surprisingly make it to the 100 Most Reliable Cars on the reliability index list.
3. Nissan Micra and Renault Pulse
That the Renault Pulse is actually positioned below the Nissan Micra is a reflection of the relatively young age of our market. In foreign markets, sporty variants of cars are usually priced higher than their more sober counterparts. However, in the case of the Renault Pulse the opposite is true.
The Pulse is more sporty and aggressive, and arguably much better looking, but is still priced lower than the Micra - the Renault Pulse RxZ variant sells at an on-road Delhi price of INR 7,73,964 as compared to the Micra XV Premium's INR 8,07,082 price tag. The Renault Pulse RxZ actually gets automatic headlamps, which the Micra XV P misses out on!
4. Daewoo Matiz and Chevrolet Spark
The next example of badge engineering seen in our country is that of the Daweoo Matiz and Chevrolet Spark. The car was first seen in India under the Daewoo badge, till GM took over the Korean company in 2002.
But the car is still sold in India as the Chevrolet Spark, GM's version of the second-generation Matiz. While we think the car looked best in its first generation as a Daewoo with those cute round headlamps, the Spark remains a fighting contender as an entry-level hatchback option in our country.
5. Dacia/Renault Logan and Mahindra Verito
In 2005, Renault partnered with Mahindra & Mahindra, and launched the Mahindra-Renault Logan in 2007. The staid sedan failed to impress Indian buyers, however.
When the joint venture between Renault and Mahindra ended in 2010, Mahindra retained selling rights for the Logan and continued to produce the car under the new name of the Mahindra Verito, with minor styling alterations. Mahindra sells a notchback version of the Verito too, the Verito Vibe.
6. Skoda Rapid and Volkswagen Vento
Skoda and Volkswagen share a rather weird badge engineering relationship in India. The Rapid actually starts off cheaper than the Vento, but top-end models of the Rapid are more expensive than the Vento's. Volkswagen isn't doing well at the moment in the country, could poor separation of identities be one of the reasons?
Because even lower priced variants of the Rapid get more features, and are better looking (the Black Package spruces up the Rapid's looks greatly) than the relatively bland Vento. Case in point: the Skoda Rapid 1.5 TDI Elegance Black Package is available at INR 11,68,098 on-road in Delhi, while the less attractive Highline Diesel Vento is surprisingly priced higher at INR 12,22,751 with less standard features and equipment.
7. Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Forester
Spotting this vehicle when it was being sold in the country between 2004 and 2007 was rare enough - you just don't see them any more. The Chevrolet Forester, as the Subaru Forester was rebadged in India, was actually a vehicle that could have suited our country really well, with its impressive performance, rugged build and high ground clearance.
But Chevrolet messed things up for the car in the country by overpricing it and marketing it poorly, and by the time buyers became aware of its Subaru roots, it was unfortunately already too late for the slow-selling Forester.
8. Fiat 1100 D and Premier Padmini
The popular Premier Padmini another classic badge engineered Indian automobile. The car was based on the Fiat 1100, and was produced between 1964 and 2000. The ‘Fiat' as it was colloquially known, was initially marketed at the Fiat 1100 Delight, till it was sold as the Premier Padmini from 1973.
When production finally ended in 2000, only the 137D was being manufactured, because of slow sales mainly owing to the advent of Maruti Suzuki's more modern and fuel efficient offerings for the country.
9. Morris Oxford and Hindustan Ambassador
The Grand Old Lady of Indian motoring was originally a British design, that of the Morris Oxford Series III which was made between 1956 and 1959 in the UK. Badge engineering goes back a long way, even in our own country.
The Ambassador went through a number of design iterations during its production run between 1958 to 2014 in India, but the basic original shape of the Morris Oxford continued through its entire life cycle.