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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd plans to launch eight new car models in India by 2021, a senior company executive said on Thursday, under a new product strategy expected to boost sales and market share in one of the world's fastest-growing markets.
The launches will include cars from Nissan's global portfolio and new Datsun-brand cars developed in India - a shift in strategy for Nissan where it has largely sold cars shared with its global alliance partner, Renault SA.
"Maybe we have not differentiated enough in the past," Christian Mardrus, Nissan's chairman for Africa, Middle East and India, told Reuters in an interview in New Delhi.
"The strategy now is more common platforms, common modules, common technology ... No more cross-badging now as we may have done in the past," he said.
The company has been working on tweaking its strategy as seen in Nissan's and Renault's most recent launches. The Datsun small-car Redi-Go and Renault's mini-SUV Kwid had more than 50 percent of parts in common, helping keep costs low, but the car design and some of the features were different.
"In the future we want to develop more Redi-Go and Kwid stories," Mardrus said.
Sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers - a mix between a sedan and SUV - are likely to dominate the new launches in India, said Guillaume Sicard, president, Nissan India, adding that the focus will be on car design, technology and cost.
The push to launch products from its global portfolio and differentiate comes at a time when Nissan's market share in India, expected to be the world's third-largest car market by 2020, is just 2 percent.
Even that share could be under threat because Nissan is likely to face more competition from new entrants in the future.
South Korea's Kia Motors Corp, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co is mulling plans to build cars in India, while Toyota Motor Corp is setting up a company with subsidiary Daihatsu to build cars for emerging markets like India.
"We may have common ideas ... the difference is execution. We have to do it better than the others. This is our challenge," Mardrus said, adding that Nissan already has a strong engineering and manufacturing base in India it can leverage.
Nissan also plans to make India an export hub for Africa and the Middle East, and will develop some of its future Datsun cars in the country with an intention to export them, Mardrus said.
Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Christopher Cushing