‘Perhaps, the TUV300 is the only vehicle in India today that can claim to have met the requirements of the upcoming BNVSAP.’

Dr Pawan Goenka, ED and president (Automotive & FES), Mahindra & Mahindra, speaks to Autocar Professional's Sumantra B Barooah on the strategy for the compact UV segment, which starts with the just- launched TUV300.

Sumantra B Barooah By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 10 Sep 2015 Views icon77120 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘Perhaps, the TUV300 is the only vehicle in India today that can claim to have met the requirements of the upcoming BNVSAP.’

Dr Pawan Goenka, executive director and president (Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors), Mahindra & Mahindra, speaks to Autocar Professional's Sumantra B Barooah on the strategy for the compact UV segment, which starts with the just-launched TUV300.

The Scorpio's role was to change the M&M’s image, and the XUV500 with its price positioning was a big bet which paid off. What does M&M expect from the TUV300?
The TUV300 is our attempt to enter the compact SUV market. We have taken a route different to other manufacturers who have entered the compact SUV segment. We believe we are SUV specialists and so we need to ensure that we maintain the purity of SUVs in some of our vehicles, possibly not all. Of course, we cannot promise all our models to be chassis-based SUVs.

We also conducted a lot of customer surveys  to find out what customers are looking for, and a lot of them mentioned the crossover kind of monocoque vehicle, besides a modern-looking vehicle with all the gadgets and technology, but a true SUV with a chassis base and an SUV/crossover styling. That’s the segment we are looking for, as we are already in the compact-SUV, sub-4-metre category with a chassis base, and the styling is what we call a true-blue SUV.

Any player which is not the first mover in a growing segment has to offer some really compelling value for consumers to choose it over others. Apart from the AMT, what would be the TUV300's USPs to compete against its peers?
Today, the segments in many ways are getting into micro definitions of each segment having its own uniqueness. So while one can say we are not the first entrant in the compact UV segment, if you look at what the TUV 300 has, I don't think it is directly comparable to any other compact UV – to that extent, we are the first entrant in the chassis-based, SUV-styled compact UV. I am not aware of any direct competition from that viewpoint.

What we are trying to bring into this compact SUV with the TUV300 are many features that go beyond what currently are on offer, certainly in chassis-based SUVs and many other monocoque SUVs.

The AMT is the first of its kind on any prefix SUV and we are very happy with the way the AMT has come and the way it drives.

We have also worked very hard on safety, an area which has been getting a lot of attention in the last year and a half in India. The government of India is also pursuing safety very aggressively with new norms. We have tried to bring all the safety features into this model two years ahead of the new norms. In fact we wouldn't need to meet them for the future four years.

Also, we have looked at the star rating that has been proposed but not officially announced. Therefore, we cannot claim any star rating but for whatever is in the draft right now, we are meeting the highest rating in some variants. We are very pleased with the kind of safety we have brought into this product.

Another thing that we have done, to which we had committed more than a year ago, is that even our lowest variant has an option of airbag and ABS. Thus, the customer need not spend a lot to buy the highest variant if he just wants the extra safety features and not the other gizmos. So, even in our lowest variant T4 which comes with a T4+ option, you can get ABS and dual airbags at a premium of Rs 30,000-35,000.

So, some variant of TUV can already sport a 5-star rating?
I cannot call it a 5-star rating because it is not yet notified. But from whatever is in the draft, yes, we are meeting that.

Perhaps, this is the only vehicle in India today that can claim to have met the requirements of the BNVSAP (Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme) even before the announcement (of new norms) has been made.

Any plan of phasing out the Quanto, now that the TUV 300 is in and the S101 will also join it soon?
The TUV300 becomes an entrant in the UV space in a major way. The Quanto was the first entry into this segment, but unfortunately did not perform as well as we thought it would. Therefore, the Quanto has a different set of styling and features  on offer and so, we do not plan on taking it out of production. Although the larger volumes will be going to the TUV, the Quanto will continue to have a niche place in that segment.

Given its leadership position in the UV market, M&M is a late entrant in this growing segment. What caused the delay, and how do you plan to make up for it?
The thrust for the compact SUV segment came a year earlier than we anticipated, before we began developing our product for the segment.

As you already know, this year we launch two products in this segment – the TUV300 and the S101 later this year. These two products bring us into the thick of things. We have six different SUVs on offer, and unlike other OEMs who aren’t specialists in SUVs and are catering to a wider passenger car base, we do not have a one-size-fits-all SUV. We have different-sized SUVs for different price-points, different needs, and that’s what we plan to do with the S101, TUV, Bolero, Scorpio, the XUV and Xylo, and Rexton from the SsangYong stable to top it all off.

How do you see the compact SUV segment growing in the coming years in India?
If you go back four years, 2012 to 2014-15, the share of SUVs in the passenger vehicles has gone up almost 5-6 percent from 17 percent to 23 percent. So generally there is a move towards the SUVs. But one could argue that whether the so-called SUVs are in fact true proper SUVs. The distinction between an SUV and a passenger car has been diluted and hence many of the newer vehicles which are SUVs are styled like passenger cars with higher ground clearance and aggressive styling.

The second trend is moving towards smaller SUVs in addition to full-size SUVs. I think with time, the share taken by the compact SUVs will be higher as compared to the conventional SUV's.

Will the S101 address a totally different set of customers than the TUV300's?
Yes, absolutely. While we have made the TUV to be a rugged, chassis-based compact SUV, the S101 will be different and I cannot imagine any customer comparing the two.

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