Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), which has rolled out a new variant of its popular Bolero utility vehicle, now christened the Bolero Power+, is looking to accelerate sales via regional launches in 12 Indian towns.
The new Bolero variant, a sub-four-metre UV (vehicle length cut by around 112mm), gets the three-cylinder, 1493cc diesel engine from M&M’s proven mHawk engine family that currently powers the popular Scorpio and XUV models. While the new mHawk D70 engine brings more power to the vehicle (70bhp as against 62bhp from existing 2523cc-engined models), company officials say that this has also worked in terms of reducing the vehicle’s overall weight. The new Bolero Power+, which was developed over a two-year period, thus offers marginally improved fuel efficiency besides better maneuverability, say Mahindra officials.
The Bolero Power+ will be offered in three variants – SLE, SLX and ZLX – all adhering to BS IV emission norms. The new model is priced at Rs 6.58 lakh (ex-showroom Pune) for the SLE variant, which comes close to Rs 100,000 cheaper than the existing Bolero in the market.
According to M&M’s website, the existing 2523cc Mahindra Bolero’s BS IV SLE variant costs Rs 7.58 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune). Interestingly, the listed BS III Bolero SLE variant is listed for Rs 7.43 lakh (ex-Pune), cheaper by almost Rs 15,000 between the two exhaust emission grades.
12 regional launches
Timing the rollout with the beginning of the festive season, the company has planned 12 regional launches for the new Mahindra Bolero Power+, thereby clearly looking to consolidate the declining sales of the variants under the Bolero brand.
“This is so because we are focusing on our key markets, which are semi-rural and rural pockets across the country. We have planned 12 regional launches for the new Bolero Power+, which are being rolled out simultaneously. This obviously is strategically timed as the market is now gathering steam and is beginning to perform well. The festive month is also around the corner,” Veejay Ram Nakra, senior vice- president, sales & customer care, automotive sector, M&M, told Autocar Professional.
“The Bolero brand continues to dominate the market in the utility vehicle segment. For example, in market in and around the Pune district, Bolero UVs hold a strong market share of 62 percent in its segment,” he added.
Industry sales data reveals that M&M’s Bolero sales, which averaged over 6,000 units per month a year ago, now has declined to a little over 4,000 a month (July 2016). While refusing to come up with a target sales number for the newest Bolero, Nakra, however, said that the M&M dealer fraternity is extremely bullish about sales of the new Bolero models.
The company is already building inventory of its vehicles that includes the new Bolero Power+ to ensure timely deliveries during the festive season.
“The new Bolero models can be booked and are available for retail starting today. The existing Bolero models will, however, continue to sell alongside the new model variants and over a period of time, based on the market dynamics, we will take a call on the old models. Nevertheless, I would like to clarify that there is a large section that currently uses the Bolero models in the upcountry areas for transportation of people. So for that we have certain variants of the Bolero that will continue to sell in their existing avatars,” said Nakra.
According to him, the Bolero has a high market share in the north, northwest and western regions in India besides some parts of the eastern states.
Mahindra Mitra Program
Meanwhile, M&M has been pilot testing a unique strategy of penetrating further into the rural pockets across the country for the last 8-10 months. After successful results, this initiative, which scaled across 800-1,000 tehsils across India, was officially called ‘Mahindra Mitra Program’ around April-May 2016.
Under this program, the company has spotted around 3,000 tehsils across India where it plans to reach out in the next 12-18 months as a drive to expand its brand deeper into the territories.
Talking in this context, which could later directly impact the sales of its brands such as the Bolero, Nakra revealed that “we have a very robust strategy for reaching out to the rural markets in India. The country has around 6,000 tehsils. At M&M, we have selected 3,000 tehsils as our focused tehsils where we have decided to take Mahindra as a brand. The focused tehsil here means that we will have some form of presence in that area. This could be either having a touch-point or through a local representation of the sales team aptly stationed in those markets to service the potential customers. That is our strategy of moving deeper into the rural pockets. As we do so, there will be many products from our portfolio that will gain including the Bolero, which is one of our primary models for those markets.”
The company has finalized these focus tehsils by evaluating certain set paramters, which involve the minimum population size of 10,000 people as the first criterion. “Secondly, we studied the tractor and the two-wheeler markets in those areas to read the potential in those markets before deciding which tehsils we would focus on,” he added.
It is to be noted here how Mahindra may have used the database from its tractor and farm equipment businesses to learn about the economy and crop patterns before selecting appropriate tehsils under its rural expansion drive.
“The tehsil-level engagement activities would include local camps and local melas. As a part of this initiative, we are looking at appointing local mechanics, technicians, and gram-panchayat heads in all these tehsils to engage with the Mahindra Mitra Program,” stated Nakra.
M&M currently has a network of 1,650 dealer touch-points across India.
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