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Mahindra plans Oz expansion

Genio out of the bottle: Mahindra will pitch its Genio ute at urban buyers when it launches here within two months.

More dealers and new models as Indian car-maker Mahindra plots growth in Australia

Mahindra logo18 Jun 2012

MAHINDRA is set to expand its Australian dealer network – especially in metropolitan areas – to meet the expected demand for its first passenger vehicle, the XUV500 that was launched locally last week and arrives in showrooms late next month.

It is also anticipating a greater impact in capital cities from August, when it will launch the Genio utility vehicle, which will be more of a ‘lifestyle’ choice than the current Pik Up workhorse ute – the Indian car-maker’s only Australian model since it entered this market in June 2007.

There are presently 25 Mahindra dealer outlets in Australia, mostly in regional areas.

Mahindra Automotive Australia’s Brisbane-based business manager, Mahesh Kaskar, told GoAuto the company intended to double that number by the end of the Indian financial year on March 31, 2013.

By the time the seven-seat SUV officially hits the market in late July, Mahindra Australia expects to have added about 11 new dealers in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

“We have a lot of new dealers coming and we expect to sign 11 new ones in the next couple of months,” Mr Kaskar told us.

“Most of them will be metropolitan, which has not been so strong for us in the past. With the Pik Up, it has mostly been sold in the country.”

 center imageFrom top: Mahindra Genio double cab Pik-Up utility XUV500 SUV.

Mr Kaskar said this would change with the arrival of the XUV500 and Genio in the coming months, although the SUV’s potential was limited by the lack of availability of an automatic transmission until about the first half of 2014.

“Of course, we will be handicapped by not having an automatic transmission as this accounts for up to 90 per cent of sales in the segment, so we expect to do only about 800 sales this year (to the end of March),” he said.

“We expect to sell about 60 to 80 a month initially, then in five months about 100 (a month), and 70 per cent will be front-wheel drive.”

Mahindra has launched the SUV in Australia in a single high-feature model specification, priced from $29,900 driveaway for the FWD variant and $32,900 driveaway for the all-wheel-wheel model.

However, the company told local media last week that it had the option of offering a lower-specification model at a later stage if it was deemed necessary to have a cheaper model.

Mahindra is working on two six-speed automatic transmission options, one produced by Hyundai and another developed and manufactured in Australia by Drive Systems International (DSI) of Albury, as used in the SsangYong Korando SUV.

Mr Kaskar said the current Pik Up light-commercial ute – which is sold as the Scorpio at home and other markets – would continue in Australia alongside the similar-size Genio as it would appeal to a different market.

“Genio will be more for urban people, with more cargo space (inside), whereas the Pik Up will be more for mining and off-road.”

The Genio is sold in India as a single-cab or double-cab ute, powered by a 2.5-litre diesel engine that produces a very modest 56kW of power and 220Nm of torque, driving through a five-speed manual gearbox, with a leaf-spring suspension and drum brakes at the rear.

The Genio is being held back from local launch so it does not detract from the launch of the vital XUV500, which is intended to show that Mahindra will be a force in global car markets beyond its previous utilitarian offerings that were designed for the Indian market.

Despite this, the SUV was initially launched nine months ago in India – along with South Africa, which is another right-hand-drive market – and without an auto or a petrol engine, which remains the most popular combination in most western markets.

Australia is the third country to get the Indian-designed XUV500, which is built at a 700-acre “state-of-the-art” manufacturing facility in the region of Chakan, near the city of Pune, that was constructed as a greenfield site with a capacity of 300,000 vehicles.

The Chakan region near Mumbai is something of an automotive hub, hosting facilities operated by General Motors, Volkswagen, Skoda, Daimler, Land Rover, Fiat and Tata in addition to Mahindra, supported by various suppliers.

Mahindra also operates other plants throughout India, including an engine plant and four vehicle assembly facilities.

Mahindra Automotive Australia is a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and was formed in 2008 after the brand was launched here in 2007 by TMI Pacific (a division of the Tynan Motor Group) with the Pik Up.

The company is based in Brisbane, where Mahindra has been assembling tractors since 2005 and selling them through a network of 50 dealers.

Although the parent company has no intention of building conventional cars, it bought Indian electric-vehicle-maker Reva in 2010 and plans to offer a series of small EV city-cars globally.

Mahindra international operations chief executive Ruzbeh Irani said he expected these electric city runabouts would eventually come to Australia, but did not say when.

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