With the accent on safety and pure SUV characteristics, M&M’s latest model tries to claim lost opportunity in the fast-growing compact SUV market.
The fast-growing market for compact SUVs in India has attracted a lot of carmakers over the last few years to try their luck in the segment. However, amidst all this, the country’s true-blue SUV maker Mahindra & Mahindra was somewhere left behind as it did not have any serious product in this space. However, the automaker is now all set to make its presence felt in the booming segment with its latest offering – the TUV300 – which was unveiled today at the Chakan, Pune plant.
Being pitched as the toughest and safest SUV developed by the company yet, the TUV300 already meets the proposed BNVSAP (Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme)safety norms that would come into effect in 2017, said Dr Pawan Goenka, executive director and president – Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors Mahindra & Mahindra, in an exclusive interview with Autocar Professional.
“We have worked very hard on safety, 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. So 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,” said Dr Goenka.
“Perhaps this is the only vehicle in India today that can claim to have met the requirements of the proposed BNVSAP even before the announcement (of new norms) has been made,” he added.
Launched today at an aggressive starting price of Rs 690,000 (ex-showroom Pune), the all-new SUV from the M&M stable is based on a sub-4-metre, chassis-based platform, which is a deliberate attempt by the company to keep the vehicle capable of plying across rough terrains. It is to be noted that chassis-based vehicles are understood to be more suitable for rugged terrains than their monocoque counterparts. Interestingly, the chassis used in the TUV3OO is derived from the third-generation ladder frame also used in the new Scorpio.
Many firsts for TUV300
Most of the recent models that are launched by the companies in the utility vehicle segment are based on a monocoque structure. The Renault Duster, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Terrano, Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, Honda Mobilio, Hyundai Creta, Suzuki S-Cross and Renault Lodgy are a few examples. The Mahindra Bolero, Mahindra Scorpio and the Tata Safari are among the fewer vehicles that are built on chassis- based platforms.
The TUV3OO is powered by a 1.5-litre diesel engine, from its patented mHawk family of engines, which produces maximum power output of around 83bhp. Using a twin scroll turbo-charger, the mHawk80 engine generates 23.45kgm of peak torque and the power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual or an AMT (automated manual transmission).
The vehicle is the first compact SUV in its class in India to offer AMT. Mahindra has developed the new gearbox with the help of in-house engineers along with the inputs from Ricardo, Europe. It is understood that M&M used 90 component suppliers for the TUV300 project, along with 28 for the powertrain. These are all existing suppliers of the company.
The TUV3OO was styled at M&M's Mumbai-based design studio with inputs from Italy’s Pininfarina and was engineered at the Mahindra Research Valley in Chennai. The SUV, which is manufactured at M&M’s Chakan plant, saw a product development period of close to 4 years. While the company has spent Rs 1,200 crore on the product development of this vehicle, component suppliers have invested close to Rs 300 crore.
The TUV3OO is M&M’s fourth product launch this year. It has launched the XUV5OO's refreshed variant, Jeeto LCV and Thar 4×4 vehicles so far this year and plans to launch another 5 products. M&M has already despatched around 1,700 units of the TUV3OO to dealers across the country.
Even as Dr Goenka admits that M&M’s entry in the compact SUV segment is late, he believes that the company’s leadership position in the UV market will only strengthen going forward, given its strategy of providing variety to buyers. “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,” he said.
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