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Mahindra will not compete with Chinese

Indian Inc: The XUV500 is the first globally developed vehicle from Mahindra.

Indian brand Mahindra says its XUV500 is far better than any Chinese product

31 May 2012


INDIA’S Mahindra claims its vehicles are so much better than Chinese products that they should not even be compared.

Mahindra international operations chief executive Ruzbeh Irani said Australian customers may not know too much about Mahindra, which in July will start selling its first model developed with export markets in mind, but argued the XUV500 SUV will make a good impression.

Asked whether Australian customers would rate an Indian product above vehicles from fellow emerging market China, Mr Irani told GoAuto: “The consumer is no fool. The consumer will find out the quality of our vehicle is not comparable to the Chinese product.”

He said the high quality of the Mahindra product would help develop the reputation of the brand, which is known in Australia for its tractors and tough but basic Pik Up workhorse ute.

“The more satisfied customers we have the easier that will become,” said Mr Irani.

Mahindra is yet to announce the pricing of the XUV, but has indicated it will not be as cheap as the Chinese Great Wall X200, which kicks off at $25,990 driveaway.

Mahindra faces the hurdle of overcoming negative safety perceptions lingering from its Pik Up ute initially scoring just two stars in ANCAP crash tests.

The company then made some revisions when it recently facelifted the model, but could only increase its score to three stars.

46 center imageANCAP has already crash-tested the XUV500, but the results have not been disclosed to Mahindra or the public.

Mahindra says it expects a four-star score and is even hoping for five stars, which would represent a public relations coup.

Mr Irani says Mahindra is prepared to wait for its brand to develop in Australia and does not have great expectations in the short term.

“Building a brand is not something that happens overnight, so we have calibrated our expectations accordingly,” he said. “We will not become a household favourite overnight.” The XUV500 seven-seater SUV is new from the ground up and is Mahindra’s first monocoque model, the company having relied on off-road-oriented body-on-frame structures for the other models it sells in India and other developing countries.

It was tested in several countries including the US, Australia and South America in order to cater for global tastes, but will launch in Australia without either a petrol engine or an automatic transmission.

Both are expected to be added, with an automatic due within two years and a petrol engine a little later.

The XUV500 will be followed by a new budget workhorse, called the Genio, which is an urban-focused ute aimed at tradies. It will arrive in late July and will be available with a regular or crew-cab body.

Mahindra hopes the two new models will give it traction in markets like Australia.

“What we lacked was the most appropriate portfolio for these markets, but now we are getting this portfolio,” said Mr Irani.

Mahindra’s automotive division builds everything from scooters to heavy-duty trucks and is the world’s larger producer of tractors, having sold 300,000 in 2011.

It does not build traditional passenger cars, although the Mahindra parent company does own electric-vehicle manufacturer Reva.

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