Mahindra & Mahindra is developing an all-new sports utility vehicle (SUV), mainly meant for foreign markets, after having dominated the Indian market with its successful Scorpio, the indigenously built SUV.
The automobile maker is investing Rs 700-Rs 800 crore in the new SUV, which is one of its most ambitious projects.
The premium global SUV, which is expected to be ready before the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal, is to be above the Scorpio both in terms of positioning and pricing.
Pawan Goenka, president of the automotive division of Mahindra & Mahindra, told reporters that the new SUV would be made at the company’s upcoming plant at Chakan in Maharashtra and would be “positioned a notch higher than the flagship Scorpio.”
According to Goenka, the new global SUV’s basic body structure would be the same as that of the Scorpio, but the vehicle can be a right-hand drive or left-hand drive one, can meet various safety requirements, and can run on different fuels. The first vehicle of the kind will come out with a diesel option. Other options such as a hybrid variant could follow, Goenka told reporters.
Mahindra & Mahindra is developing the new SUV as a “global product,” yet it will also be sold in India, too, sources said. The vehicle could cost Rs 10 lakh in India.
Though the vehicle was referred to by Pawan Goenka as an SUV, newspaper reports quoted sources engaged in development as saying that the new product will be a crossover – that is, a vehicle derived from a car platform even while using the features of a sports utility vehicle.
Crossovers like the Honda CR-V in India offer the riding comfort of a car and, at the same time, sport the “macho looks” of an SUV are usually designed for light off-road capability. Honda CR-V, BMW X3, Toyota Highlander and Nissan Rouge are some of the popular crossover vehicles.
According to sources, Mahindra & Mahindra, in its efforts to make headway in the fast-growing market of the SUV, is considering making higher-end products in the SUV segment. The new SUV reportedly has a different, all-new platform in terms of specifications, design and architecture.
Sources said that it was after losing Ford’s Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) to Tatas that Mahindra & Mahindra decided to build its own global brand of SUV for foreign markets. And, the company has named the vehicle being developed as ‘’Global SUV.’
Anand Mahindra, managing director and vice-chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, had earlier said that his company “is not worried over the loss of JLR” but was rather prepared to compete with the Tatas.