Renault entered India on their own steam (or should be their own petrol and diesel) with the launch of the Fluence towards the middle of this year. Their launch strategy was strikingly different. They privileged the petrol model over the diesel one. The petrol model got the swank interiors with beige trim, double zone automatic climate control, CVT tranny, better upholstery, and better everything. The diesel variant came with black interiors, ordinary upholstery, good old fashioned air conditioning and very ordinary plastics. Let us understand what could be the rationale of Renault behind this strategy. In India diesel costs much, much, much, much, much (sorry not thaaaaaaaat much) lesser than petrol. Most Indians are misers who will not splurge their well gotten or even ill gotten money on things. So offer the despecced version of the Fluence at a lesser price and put out the bells and whistles for the petrol version since anybody who is driving a petrol car will probably not mind paying a little extra for the car as he/she does for the fuel.
Very sound thinking. But misses the point totally with us Indians. We like to show off and also be misers. We have perfected the art of having the cake and eating it too. Even the buyer of BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Bentley (the last last four marques do not have diesel engined cars, if they did they would sell much more than they do now) will opt for diesel. And that is not because they see any inherent merit in the fuel except the price. Make the price of petrol half that of diesel and advertise double the mileage and trust us there will be no takers for diesel. But to come back to the question on hand; Indians will pay extra as a one time thing (that is the purchase of the car) but will not pay every time we go to the fuel station. So it is not uncommon for chauffeur driven BMWs and Mercs (the chauffeur will probably be paid a princely Rs. 2K and there would salary cuts if the car gets scratched) to roll into fuel stations and ask for diesel worth Rs. 500 to be put in the tank. This is the point that Renault missed. Now they seemed to have understood, so they are in the process of making a bells and whistles diesel Fluence to rectify the anomaly they have created in the first place. The car is likely to reach the showrooms by November. Now you can see more Fluence users getting out of an impressive car after they have just been to the fuel station to fill Rs. 200 worth of diesel.