2012 News Maker: Pawan Goenka

M&M's diesel UV line-up has ridden the huge shift of the consumer preference for diesel vehicles. But along the line, the company has been able to tap exactly what the customer wants.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 21 Dec 2012 Views icon5168 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Pawan Goenka, the head of Mahindra & Mahindra’s automotive and farm equipment sectors, can look back at 2012 with a sense of pride. In March, after having completed its acquisition of SsangYong, the company finally launched its first Korean SUV in India, the Rexton.

The Rexton is the first of several SUVs from the Korean OEM that will make its way to our shores and M&M is banking on this range, among other products, to take it into the global league of SUVs.

With SsangYong under its belt, M&M hopes that India will be the second largest market for SsangYong after Russia. Also, M&M is in talks with SsangYong’s Russian distributor to launch and distribute Mahindra brands in that country. Already, M&M and SsangYong are working on a variety of engine and vehicle platforms.

With the Rexton – 80 of which were sold in the first month according to SIAM – M&M has thrown its hat into the very heart of the high-end SUVs where the Toyota Fortuner is the leader in the pack. The SUV has been badged in a unique way with the brand Rexton appearing on the car body and the words 'By Mahindra' alongside. A tribute to the strength of the Mahindra brand.

In addition, 2012 saw the XUV500 which has been a trailblazer of sorts. M&M’s indigenously developed SUV completed a year in September with close to 40,000 units sold. The XUV got off to a heady start with 8,000 bookings in the very first 10 days. The company then had to close bookings and open another round of bookings a few months later. This time it had a lottery to choose the lucky winners, a tribute from the buyer to a product that has caught consumer fancy with its features and pricing. As Dr Goenka put it at the launch, very few products launched in the Rs 12-lakh bracket come with these kind of features. While it is still early days for the Rexton, and having struck paydirt with the XUV500 and at the time of going to press, M&M appears likely to replicate that success with the recently-launched Quanto, an under-four-metre version of the Xylo. The company received over 5,000 bookings for the Quanto in the first three weeks, and the vehicle seems all set to woo both the private buyer as well as the taxi market.

In fact, M&M’s UV line- up is doing so well that one could not have asked for more. The Bolero is a 10-year-old Mahindra workhorse and the refresh launched a year ago has been a hit with the vehicle crossing the 10,000 units mark thrice in the current calendar thus far.

Needless to say, the company’s diesel UV line- up has ridden the huge shift of the consumer preference for diesel. But along the line, the company has been able to tap exactly what the customer wants. For example, the XUV500 is a contemporary design that has tapped the shift towards sporty vehicles. With the Quanto, Mahindra is betting that this value-priced offering can woo buyers looking to own a practical utility vehicle.

Besides these successes, Mahindra is now close to launching its first electric car under the aegis of Mahindra-Reva, the Chetan Maini-founded company that it acquired in May 2010. The company will now launch the NXR soon and in many ways, this represents a milestone for M&M in the 'green' vehicle space. There will doubtless be an implanting of this eco-friendly technology in other Mahindra products as well, going forward.

On the trucks front, Mahindra’s joint venture with Navistar of the US was able to cross the 5,000 mark in sales of trucks and was reason enough for celebration given that Mahindra Navistar Automotives (MNAL) is up against biggies such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland as well as new entrants including Daimler. The going has been slow for Mahindra in the trucks space thus far and it remains to be seen how MNAL can cope with aggressive rivals. On other fronts, the Mahindra Research Valley has now been established as the Group’s node for R&D. It has been benchmarked against not only the best in India but worldwide and as a group, this R&D hub will underpin all of M&M’s efforts in the passenger vehicle space.

Dr Goenka has been Autocar Professional's Man of the Year twice, in 2011 and in 2006, when we described him as the architect of M&M’s global vision. That vision has unfolded in the years since and clearly, M&M’s plans in the SUV space will be closely watched by the automotive fraternity.

BRIAN DE SOUZA
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