If the XUV500 was the high point for Mahindra & Mahindra this fiscal, the company is hoping for an encore in 2012-13, when six products will be launched.

“I hope at least one or two of them will become as successful as the XUV500 in terms of redefining the dynamics of the market,” Dr Pawan Goenka, President (Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors), told Business Line.

The first is the NXR electric car which, despite its potentially low volumes and profits, may well redefine the future of mobility. M&M believes if it gets the whole equation right in creating the ecosystem around the NXR, urban mobility in India will be transformed a decade from now.

“At that point, when we have a whole lot of electric vehicles on the roads and someone says it was M&M who first did it, it will make me feel very good. This could be the beginning of a small revolution in the automobile industry and it is something that I am very excited about,” Dr Goenka said.

The company knows only too well that the NXR journey is not going to be a cakewalk, especially from the viewpoint of costs. These will come down only when volumes increase, something which could take years to materialise.

Compact SUV

M&M is as bullish on the compact SUV, which is expected to debut around Diwali. This is a product segment that has caught the eye of other automakers, especially when it has the potential to eat into the premium hatchback segment with similar price points of Rs 5-6 lakh.

“I believe our product is capable of clocking high volumes. If customers begin looking at compact SUVs as a viable alternative to hatchbacks, this could create some exciting market dynamics,” Dr Goenka said. SUVs will, in that case, double their share to 30 per cent of the vehicle market.

The other ‘interesting product' during 2012-13 is the Rexton SUV from the SsangYong stable. Though it is not part of a high-volume segment, it will push the envelope for M&M, on the lines of the XUV500.

“My concern then was generating volumes for the XUV500 at that price. We are now pushing the Rexton to the next level and testing the waters to see if people will buy 500 units a month,” Dr Goenka said.

Smaller Verito

While these three products are expected to be out in the market by Diwali, the sub-four metre Verito (the rechristened Logan) will follow towards the end of 2012-13. With the consequent lower excise duty for small cars, the Verito will come in cheaper and attempt to grow its buyer base.

“Amidst these products, we also have the launch of the Maxximo van in the next four months. It has the potential to give us a large presence in the people's carrier business,” Dr Goenka said. The heady response the XUV500 is receiving has convinced M&M that customers have evolved to a stage where they are looking at value in a product beyond discounts/giveaways.

“You can call it luck, coincidence or hard work but we have somehow managed to get the equation right in what the customer wants,” he quipped.

gmurali@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 7, 2012)
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