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Mahindra caught short by emissions regulations

Out with the old: An ageing Euro 4 diesel engine means Mahindra will be selling 2016-built cars in Australia for a few months yet.

Local Mahindra supplies running dry as emissions rules, engine delays take hold

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Mahindra logo6 Jun 2017

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

MAHINDRA Automotive Australia has been caught out by global development delays for Euro 5 emissions-compliant engines, leaving it unable to import any 2017-built vehicles until an updated Genio arrives in July, and forcing both the Pik-Up and XUV500 off the market until later this year.

The three-tiered Mahindra range, comprising the Pik-Up and Genio utes and the XUV500 mid-size SUV, are currently available only with a Euro 4 emissions-compliant 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that does not meet Australia’s stricter Euro 5 standards introduced on October 31, 2016.

Speaking with GoAuto, Mahindra Automotive Australia public relations and marketing manager James Halliwell confirmed that the company was unable to import any of its range beyond that date, leaving the 41-strong dealership network without any current-year stock.

“We’ve been in (2016) plate runout since January,” Mr Halliwell revealed.

“Euro 5 diesel Genio will be launched from July. We are now actually sold out of most of the Pik-Up. Unfortunately, though, Euro 5 diesel … is a little bit delayed and we might not have that out until the second half of this year. Euro 5 (in) XUV500 will be launched later this year also.” Mr Halliwell said the new-look Pik-Up, which is sold overseas under the Goa or Scorpio model name and made its world debut at the Barcelona auto show last month, would arrive “certainly by Q4 and maybe Q3” this year in diesel form. The same applies for the XUV500, although the SUV will likely switch to petrol power only later this year.

However, he would not comment on whether Mahindra’s dealers were happy with the delays given two of Mahindra’s three models will be in 2016 runout for most of 2017.

Asked whether not having 2017-built models in showrooms has hampered sales, Mr Halliwell replied: “Not at all.” “We’re 58 per cent up on last year in sales for our vehicle business, so we’re pretty happy with where we are today.” Mahindra does not subscribe to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ VFACTS reporting service of new-vehicle registrations.

Mr Halliwell further confirmed that the Pik-Up, which currently starts at $24,990 driveaway in cab-chassis configuration, will offer “a completely new exterior, a new interior, new transmission and uprated engine with higher kilowatts and torque, and also meeting Euro 5 compliance”.

The Pik-Up will also aim to distance itself from the Genio, which is currently identically priced with the same 88kW/280Nm diesel, and will be launched first next month without any other running changes except for Euro 5 compliance.

“I believe there’s going to be a difference in the engines,” Mr Halliwell said of the new Pik-Up and revised Genio.

“The Euro 5 diesel in the Pik-Up, which is primarily our 4x4 products, will have a fairly upgraded engine in terms of kilowatts and torque. The Genio Euro 5 diesel will pretty much stay the same numbers that we have today. The Genio is basically a Euro 5-compliant diesel engine no other changes on the product.” Although Mahindra Automotive chief executive Pravin Shah told GoAuto in May last year that the next Pik-Up, then slated to go on sale in the second quarter of this year, “will have the option of an automatic, so we will have the right start”, only a manual transmission will be offered at launch.

“It (Pik-Up) will come out with a six-speed manual initially,” Mr Halliwell said. “Then there’ll be a six-speed automatic in the medium (term).” Another delay has faced the flagship W10 model grade of the XUV500, which had been slated for a late-2016 launch. But diesel power will be dropped from the range altogether later this year, with the company introducing a cheaper W6 model grade alongside the W8 that is currently priced from $29,990 driveaway.

“The main difference between W8 and W10 is really electric driver’s front seat, keyless entry and start-stop button, and the sunroof,” Mr Halliwell said.

“I don’t know whether it’s just been limited supply for the domestic market in India or demand has outstripped that supply, but it has been difficult for us to get that product here and I know we’ve got many customers that have asked us about that product.

“(But) there will be a specification change. So currently we have a W8 spec, which has sat-nav, leather, reverse camera etc, in seven seats and diesel. We’ ll be bringing a version of that which is W6 spec, which features cloth seats, seven seats, of course, but in petrol automatic so a bit of a cheaper-priced one.” The petrol engine will be a 2.2-litre turbocharged unit that is currently in homologation testing in Australia, with final sign-off expected this month. While the local Mahindra outpost will have a Euro 5 diesel available to import from later this year, Mr Halliwell said a Euro 6 version was expected in 2018.

“The market size for diesel is shrinking,” he stated.

“And, in fact, over 70 per cent of SUV purchases are petrol today, and that’s growing. So our focus immediately is on Euro 5 petrol. We can take a Euro 5 diesel or a Euro 6 diesel. We’re actually monitoring the situation and I kind of personally think we’ll probably see Euro 6 diesel out later, sometime next year.” Of the prospects of the brand moving forward, Mr Halliwell argued that Mahindra was “in a really good position”.

Mahindra Automotive Australia had planned to open 50 dealerships by the end of 2016, but the tally now stands at 40, following additions over the past six months in Seymour, Kilmore and Bendigo in Victoria, Dubbo and Orange in New South Wales, and Brisbane, Queensland.

While another dealer in Geelong, Victoria, will open before the end of the year, Mr Halliwell said “we’re certainly chasing down another nine between now and Christmas, for sure”.

“We’re pretty confident we'll be across 50 dealers by Christmas. With our Euro 5 diesel, light commercials coming and the petrol and the SUV product coming, it’s looking pretty good for us as we roll into 2018.”

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