Starting from next year, the Indian market is going to see a compact SUV onslaught with Mahindra planning as many as three sub 4-metre SUVs to be launched in the next 18-24 months. Mahindra which recently lost a major chunk of market share to new entrants like the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster wants to reclaim its market position with the new compact SUVs that will be a key driver of passenger vehicle sales for the company.
Starting with the dud selling Quanto, Mahindra plans a comprehensive facelift for its first sub 4-metre product and has codenamed the project ‘U215’. The U215 facelift includes major design changes that are being worked upon at Mahindra’s design centre in Italy, while the product will be positioned between two new models including a micro-SUV codenamed as S101 and a possible sub 4-metre Bolero variant codenamed U301.
The new S101 will be a new entry point for customers and will be competing on par with premium hatchbacks in terms of pricing. The micro-SUV will have a car like appearance, while the Quanto facelift will get a more rugged appearance, in contrast with its current boxy design language. The U301 Bolero on the other hand will have a bold appearance taking inspiration from the Jeep Wrangler (or the in-house Thar) and will be sold alongside the full sized Bolero as a rugged compact SUV that see’s a huge demand in semi-urban and rural markets.
All the three compact SUVs however, will be very different in characteristics and will cater to a different set of buyers. With this new product strategy, Mahindra is trying to pull off Maruti’s successful business module of offering different products that are priced at a difference of Rs. 50,000-75,000/- from each other. Mahindra was not quick to anticipate the potential of the compact SUV market and is trying to control the damage by offering an onslaught of products that will not only compete with the existing competition but also with products that are scheduled to be launched from Honda, Hyundai, Maruti and the likes in the segment.
The urban compact SUV segment is expected to make for a hefty 20-25 percent of the market share and even though Mahindra has its presence with the Quanto, the product has not been a game changer in the segment. The new Quanto facelift however is expected to fill in that void only marginally as a stop-gap measure, until the next generation model codenamed U321 arrives in 2017. The next generation Quanto is being developed in the US, underpinned by a versatile platform that could also spawn products larger than the 4-metre mark and 7-seater utility vehicles in the future.
Apart from the new launches, Mahindra has also been readying up its best selling Scorpio with a facelift that will be launched next month, while the flagship XUV500 is also scheduled to get updates. The lifestyle off-roader Thar will get a major upgrade and will now be underpinned by the U-platform that forms the basis of the Xylo, Quanto and Genio models, replacing the legendary MM540 base. The change comes due to the upcoming safety regulations, under which the MM540 will not qualify. In its commercial lineup, the Genio will also get a facelift that gets major upgrades for more rugged performance.
Source – Economic Times