The Daimler-Renault-Nissan tie-up signals the death of the concept of a motor vehicle’s brand association with a particular country
The big news for the fortnight in the motoring world has to be the Daimler-Renault-Nissan tie-up. Internationally, what this achieves is cross participation in equity between them, as well as sharing in resources for further research, development and production. On the domestic front, it gets even more interesting. M&M has Renault withdrawing from the Logan, which said car was a bit of a non-starter in India. Ashok Leyland (Hindujas) will move deeper in with Renault-Nissan, though how that will impact the traditional relationship between Tata Motors and Daimler remains to be seen.
But it is the complete concept of a motor vehicle’s brand association with a particular country that this tie-up finally throws out of the window. Although it’s been a while coming, it has been visible to all of us on our streets ever since Maruti-Suzuki evolved into an Indian brand worldwide, regardless of where the cars were actually built—India, Europe or Japan. Now this concept goes global in a big way. General Motors has Daewoo, Ford has Chinese friends, Daimler was American but is now French, Japanese and much more; and everybody wants to sell more in India and China.
So we will have luxury cars from Nissan and small economy wheels from Daimler, badged any of a dozen options. And most interestingly, if grapevine is to be believed, some sort of massive global tie-up seems to be in the offing for another small car. The Tata Nano appears to be a tough act to beat and is currently proving its paces in parts of the world which were traditionally "home" markets for the colonial-era manufacturers from Europe.
This is worrying them, especially in Africa, because despite domestic reports on a few Tata Nanos catching fire here and there in India, this small car is rapidly evading the walls blocking it and running into the multiple open doors of success.
If growth in India is in the private-taxi business, then the Nano has already reached into the space till now occupied by three-wheeler auto-rickshaws. This correspondent has said it before, and reiterates it here—the Tata Nano will do to cheap local public transport what the Tata Ace did to short and small cargo movement. It will revolutionise it like the Vespa scooter did decades ago.
The general insurer has appointed Shreeraj Deshpande as health insurance head and will soon set up its own in-house team to service health policies
With the appointment of Dr Shreeraj Deshpande as Future Generali’s new health insurance head, a position specially created for him, the general insurance company seems to be heading in a new direction. In a surprising move, the company also plans to do away with third-party administrator (TPA) services from its portfolio.
“We have done a significant amount of group health insurance business and have started making our presence felt in the retail health business. We felt that it is important for us to recognise health as a major line of business and provide enough infrastructure to ensure quality service to our customers,” KG Krishnamoorthy Rao, Future Generali India’s managing director and chief operating officer, told Moneylife.
In a move to ensure customer satisfaction, the company would now have its own in-house team to service health policies, instead of customers dealing with TPAs who facilitate medical insurance payouts. The company, which is still using about 10 TPAs, will switch over to the in-house team by the end of this year, after the required infrastructure is put in place.
“TPAs have not been able to live up to the service standards that had been expected from them when they were introduced. This has led to various issues, including some doctors and hospitals refusing to work with them. For us, as an insurer, it would be better if we have our own team which can interact both with the customers and hospitals directly, to ensure that our clients are getting prompt service. This will help us to address customer issues much faster,” Mr Rao said.
In the middle of February, policyholders who were admitted to Mumbai hospitals were trapped in the midst of a raging battle between city-based doctors and TPAs, owing to doctors’ unhappiness with the low consultancy fees being allowed by a couple of TPAs for reimbursement under medical insurance plans.
Dr Deshpande will be responsible for increasing Future Generali’s presence in the health insurance space, with special focus on the retail market. He will also concentrate on growing Future Generali’s corporate health portfolio by providing tailor-made solutions.