MUMBAI – From production to marketing, Renault Nissan Automotive India is aggressively pursuing growth in the country.

It has doubled capacity of its Indian plant to 400,000 units in two years, ahead of the earlier target of five years, and plans to double capacity again to 800,000 by 2016. The auto maker intends to field as many as 22 models across all light-vehicle segment over the next four to five years.

RNAI has brought cross-badging (replacing a vehicle’s brand name with that of another) to India to save development and manufacturing costs and shorten the time frame from drawing board to market.

Nissan’s Micra premium hatchback is cross-badged as Renault Pulse, using the same platform, engineering and similar body. Pulse, like Micra, also offers a diesel option. Nissan’s Sunny sedan has become the Renault Fluence sedan. And Nissan is planning to cross-badge a small SUV, drawing on the recently launched Renault Duster.

As Nissan gears for next month’s expected launch of the 7-seat Evalia MPV, Renault is getting ready for cross-badging. Evalia will be priced from Rs800,000-Rs900,000, ($14,300-$16,100).

The auto makers meet twice a year to identify models for cross-badging. To prevent the cars from undercutting each other, they have an understanding that Renault models come with a few additional features and are priced higher than cross-badged Nissan models. The pricing arrangement is similar to that between Skoda and Volkswagen.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Global 88 product program calls for launching a new vehicle every six weeks over the next six years. The auto makers’ Indian subsidiary is focusing on the country’s expanding small-car market.

“We will go below (our) existing categories to look for entry-level cars,” says Marc Nassif, RNAI managing director.

Renault and Nissan employ more than 2,000 engineers and technologists at a common research and development center in India to explore their entry-level car prospects.

Nissan also is discussing minicar plans with Bajaj Auto, India’s leading manufacturer of 2-wheel motorized vehicles. Bajaj is considering converting a 3-wheel model into a small car for commercial use.

“We have not yet made a definitive decision. However, we are aware of the difficulties in (launching) cars at lower price points,” says Takayuki Ishida, CEO and managing director of Nissan India.

Nissan also is looking into using discarded Datsun car platforms from Japan for entry-level vehicles in India and South Africa.

In yet another effort to penetrate the Indian and Association of Southeast Asian Nations markets, Nissan and Ashok Leyland have jointly launched the Dost small light-commercial vehicle.

Renault, meanwhile, is developing a fuel-efficient 0.8L gasoline-powered car of its own for Indian and ASEAN markets. Gerard Detourbet, a small-car specialist for the French auto maker, is heading the project codenamed “A Entry.” Plans call for rollout from RNAI within two years.

According to WardsAuto data, Nissan sales in India reached 22,585 units in 2011, a 237% surge from the previous year. Renault recorded 1,137 deliveries last year, when the brand made its debut in India.

RNAI is increasing local content in its Indian models from 80% to 95%, which will help reduce production costs.

RNAI also is developing a diesel-engine plant in Chennai with annual capacity of 200,000 units. The amount of the investment required is not disclosed, but the plant will be flexible and able to double capacity as and when required.