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Renault makes Indian return with luxury sedan

NEW DELHI, May 23 – French carmaker Renault marked its return to fast-growing India on Monday with the launch of a luxury sedan designed especially for the Asian market.

Renault India managing director Marc Nassif said the launch of the Fluence marked "the real first phase" of the carmaker\’s entry into India.

Its earlier foray in the nation was the four-door Logan built with former local partner Mahindra and Mahindra, which was aimed at the mid-size segment.

But the Logan, launched in 2007, found few buyers, and was panned by critics for its dated looks and high price, and Renault ended the joint venture last year.

The Fluence, to be sold for around 1.3 million rupees ($29,000), is the first Renault-branded car to be assembled in India at the automaker\’s plant in Chennai.

"We are confident it will not only shake up the (luxury) segment, but also give the Indian customer their first taste of what Renault is capable of bringing to the Indian market," Nassif told reporters.

After the Fluence, Renault has said it plans to introduce a sports utility vehicle this year, to be known as the Koleos, followed by three more cars next year.

India, along with Brazil and Russia, is among the top three markets for Renault\’s international expansion plans.

The group and its Japanese partner Nissan intend to make an ultra-low cost car to be sold in India and other emerging markets that will be designed and manufactured by Bajaj Auto, the country\’s leading motorbike and rickshaw maker.

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The car, expected to launch in 2012, plans to rival the world\’s cheapest car — the Nano — produced by India\’s leading vehicle maker Tata Motors.

The marketing and selling will be done by the Renault-Nissan alliance.

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