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Multix set to break new ground in mobility space

| Updated on: Jul 30, 2015
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Eicher Polaris maintains that the vehicle goes beyond jugaad

Mike Dougherty admits it has been a long journey that took nearly five years in the making. Today, as the Multix prepares to hit the roads shortly, the Vice-President (Asia Pacific & Latin America) of Polaris Industries will have reason to feel upbeat.

It was nearly five years ago when representatives of his company and Eicher Motors led by its Managing Director & CEO, Siddhartha Lal, first met to discuss the possibilities of working together. “We had similar concepts as Eicher did,” recalls Dougherty. At that point in time, Polaris was looking at Brazil as a potential entry market.

Innovative collaboration The two companies then kicked off customer research in India for a couple of years and came up with the Multix concept. The joint venture followed and it has been a lot of hard work since then in terms of setting up a new team, distribution network and so on.

“India is a new market for Polaris and the Multix is probably the most innovative thing that we have ever done for sure. We are comfortable working with Eicher and there is a shared vision and value structure,” says Dougherty.

Lal adds that the first couple of years were spent on understanding this product space and what its targeted user, the independent businessman, really wanted. “We studied his life and saw how he operated as well as his mobility requirements, both personal and business,” he says.

The research also showed that electricity supply in his area of operations, which was largely small towns, was extremely erratic. This may not have had much to do with mobility but was a problem for sure in daily life.

According to Lal, the first part of the journey was in understanding the customer, his problems and how he solved them. It was clear that he was distinctly unhappy on a two-wheeler as it was unsafe for his family and posed a problem in rainy weather. If he had to hire a cab, its availability and costs would be a problem.

This was when the Eicher, Polaris duo realised that it needed to develop something which was totally ground-up. “The product from what we started at the thought process and where it ended up has evolved tremendously. This is a result of understanding the customer better,” says Lal.

From his point of view, while adaptability and running costs are important for the independent businessman, the most critical aspect was comfort, especially when it comes to drive and handling on tricky roads. This is where Polaris’ decades of experience came in handy. Lal believes that the Multix marks a “remarkable breakthrough” in terms of handling, ground clearance and suspension, which translates into high comfort levels.

Perfect match Dougherty quips that the Polaris team had no idea how hard the entire journey was going to be. To its credit, the company’s board of directors realised that it needed to diversify and think differently. “India is a critical launch market for Polaris and we have found the right partner to help us grow,” he says.

Lal says that among the capabilities and strengths Eicher brings to the table is its understanding of the entire back-end operations. What started off as the shell of the old Jaipur plant (originally home to Royal Enfield) has now seen a complete transformation. “It was very important for us to have used the frugal innovation principle and make a vehicle that is not considered jugaad,” he says.

While vehicles on the roads today are patched up and put together in some random way, Lal believes the Multix is “really precise” as in the case of its frame which scores over any other vehicle (frame) in this category.

“The best levels of robotics, tool making and fixtures have been used for the Multix. There is a lot which has gone in and while we have ensured that the cost structures are competitive, the precision levels are totally on a global perspective,” he adds.

Both Eicher and Polaris knew that the Multix, as a segment creator, had to be a personal vehicle which means good ride and handling apart from looks. Eventually, it must assure the user excellent utility for his business as well. “It does not follow any existing form but an independent businessman would be very proud taking his family on the Multix,” says Lal.

Interestingly, when the concept was first shown to people a couple of years ago, some said they could not think of carrying their family and doing business in the same vehicle. Others felt it was brilliant and precisely what they were looking for.

Lal says he would much rather have such polarised reactions rather than lukewarm responses. “Being No 2 for everybody does not help and you have to be No 1 for a few people,” he reasons.

While the independent businessman would view a car as a cost centre, the Multix is a profit centre where he can make and save money.

Published on March 12, 2018

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