A few years back, Tata took a risk to change its whole passenger vehicle line-up, something we seldom see in the automotive industry. But the gamble paid off, as Tata Motors built a completely new identity for itself. Infamous for its inconsistent and maintenance hungry vehicles back in the day, the new Tata vehicles have become a synonym of a reliable and robust build quality.
Mahindra & Mahindra seems to take a page from Tata Motors book as the former Indian brand is trying to pull a similar kind of stunt. And you wouldn’t be wrong to relate this news with that of Pratap Bose joining Mahindra and Mahindra. Maybe, just maybe, a condition for him to enter M&M would’ve been the complete redesigning of Mahindra’s portfolio!
Axing vehicles like the budget-friendly KUV100 & Marazzo, halting production of its best-seller XUV500 to adding new names like XUV700 & XUV900 to its portfolio, M&M looks like on a revamp spree. But why, you ask? Well, let’s take a closer look into the Mahindra fiasco and try to understand the situation. Also, the XUV500 is going to be temporarily discontinued and will be replaced with a new one so, no need to shed tears XUV fans.
Starting with the KUV100 and Marazzo. Both the vehicles work as the entry point to the ‘micro-SUV’ and MPV segment respectively. Mahindra launched the KUV 100 in January to lure younger crowd who wanted an SUV in the price range of hatchbacks. The micro-SUV did pretty well during its early years and over time Mahindra added 14 versions to it – 7 petrol and 7 diesel (Well you can expect the popularity it had once just by this).
But, with the rapidly changing car market in India, the KUV 100 started to lose its edge against the updated feature-loaded versions of the hatchbacks. Mostly because people realised that adding plastic cladding to a small hatch does not turn it into an SUV. The dent became bigger when a blow came from the newly emerging compact SUV segment, which offered a much better look, comfort and performance to the buyers for a nominal price hike. All these made such a hard impact on the KUV100’s market that the “SUV” sold just 21 units in 2021 Q1 pan India. Even a losing Man City has more true fans than that!
The case isn’t much better for the Mahindra Marazzo which registered sales of only 711 units during the same period. Though it provided a comfortable ride with ample space, the car failed to perform against the batch of futuristic-looking and tech over-loaded vehicles like the KIA Seltos and Hyundai Creta.
So, Mahindra executing these vehicles is actually inevitable. However, the KUV100 will live on for a while longer in its upcoming electric avatar eKUV. Talking to Autocar India an M&M source told, this is a part of a bigger move by the Indian brand to trash its slow-performing models in order to create space for more lucrative future SUVs. This makes sense!
But then why discontinue your top-performer, the XUV 500? Well if you haven’t seen the crowded SUV segment in the Indian market, let me give you a perspective. From ongoing Creta, Seltos, Harrier, Hector to their bigger-badder (pardon my grammar please, but this sounds better this way, isn’t it!) versions like Safari, Alcazar, Hector Plus, these big boys would be anything but gentle to the XUV500 before letting it have a share of their pie. So, it Mahindra’s way of saying to those vehicles “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” And behold enters XUV 500’s “bade bhaiya”, the XUV 700.
Alright keeping the jokes and puns aside, introducing a bigger XUV in the current market does make more sense and is practical too. Mahindra XUV500 with its barely updated features since its launch was really outdated against the army of the new range of SUVs. To regain its lost space the Indian carmaker needed not just an updated version of its SUV but also a bigger one as the 7-seater SUV are becoming the new favorites of the Indian car buyers.
These bigger alterations of the 5-seater SUVs add more space on the vehicle without costing anywhere near the “real SUVs” like the Fortuner or Endeavour. The temporary discontinuation of the XUV500 will also save the brand from an in-brand competition among its own models. (Well, while closely placed models seem to do the trick for some brands like Hyundai, Mahindra is not willing to take any chances right now, it seems).
With the XUV500 out of the equation, the buyers will only have one option to choose from, the XUV700. Mind you though, as the discontinuation is not permanent and the Mahindra XUV 500 will return as a new Creta/Seltos rival in early 2024. M&M may take its time off the market to read the customer response on the upcoming XUV700 and develop the 500 accordingly. It may return in a more compact sub-4-meter body with five seats to avail the tax benefits which will also place it more directly against its compact SUV competition. (For now, we will have to wait, to figure out what actually has Mahindra on cards for the new XUV500!)
Mahindra reportedly is also re-evaluating the XUV Aero concept from the 2016 Auto Expo and it may be introduced as the XUV900 in production avatar. If it does, that will be the first SUV coupe in the Indian market and may give M&M the first-mover advantage. A good overall designed product with a bang on price will just be a steal-show for the brand, if, and only if they will pull this out.
Changing the whole line-up is not a small feat by any means, and if Mahindra has to be on the achivers’ list, it has to be point perfect on all fronts, just like Tata or this whole fiasco will turn into a nightmare which the Indian brand won’t be able to forget for a long time.
Is it the perfect time to get Pratap Bose, the man who changed the fate of Tata with his designed vehicles onboard by all means possible? I think so! Maybe this time is brought to Mahindra by him only.