M&M plans new mass-market SUV; eyes lowest-price slot

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After huge success of its existing models like Scorpio and XUV 500, auto major Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) is working on a new mass-market SUV and plans to position it as the lowest-price vehicle in this segment.

The company is currently working on 2-3 platforms for this new SUV, which it plans to launch beginning 2015 at a price even below that of Scorpio, senior executive Pawan Goenka told PTI in an interview here.

Goenka, Executive Director and President (Automotive and Farm Equipments) at M&M, was here for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which was held from January 21-25.

Mahindra group, a USD 17 billion multinational group employing over 185,000 people in over 100 countries, is a major player in automotive business through its flagship entity M&M. Besides, it is also present across various other sectors including technology, aerospace, defence, financial services, hospitality, retail and real estate.

"If you look at journey of Mahindras, starting from Scorpio, we basically have pushed the envelope for making the mass market higher in terms of price," said Goenka, who is known as father of the highly successful Scorpio.

Asked what next to expect from M&M in the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment, Goenka said, "When we started selling Scorpio at about Rs 6 lakh, there was no mass market product being sold at Rs 6 lakh.

"Nothing was sold more than few hundred units at Rs 6 lakh at that time and then we came and sold 3,000-4,000 Scorpios a month at that price.

"Then, when we launched we launched XUV at Rs 12 lakh, again there was no mass market product sold at that price. But we again came in and pushed the envelop. We have done all these," he said.

"Now, going beyond Rs 12 lakh price position is probably unlikely in India right now. There has been a very significant change in the segmentation of this SUV business where the smaller sub-four meter, may be even petrol driven, SUVs are suddenly becoming very popular.

"So for Mahindras, the next big thing would be not to go from Scorpio to XUV to something bigger and more premium, but to come on this end, that is below Scorpio, to see how do we go into the newly created segment of sub-four metre, primarily five-passenger vehicles," Goenka said.

"That is where our next big bet will be," he said.

Asked whether this new vehicle could be the lowest price product in the SUV segment, Goenka replied in affirmative.

About the possible timeline, he said, "We will have 2-3 new platforms that we will be launching starting 2015."

Goenka also said that Mahindra group was very active in overseas markets, while the India growth story has also remained intact and the same has been asserted by Indian leaders during WEF summit at Davos, Switzerland.

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