Multix Maxim

The Multix seems to blur the line be­tween a small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle and a per­sonal util­ity ve­hi­cle.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Anirudh Ra­heja

The Multix seems to blur the line be­tween a small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle and a small per­sonal util­ity ve­hi­cle.

On a nar­row wind­ing road in the hin­ter­land of Konkan, the Multix came as a sur­prise. Ex­it­ing a blind cor­ner, on a rough coun­try ter­rain that could hardly qual­ify as one, the Multix, with five adults and the cargo tray full of food grain sacks, made for an in­ter­est­ing sight. It looked dandy, and ca­pa­ble. It gave an im­pres­sion of blur­ring the boundary be­tween a per­sonal util­ity ve­hi­cle and a small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle. In­tro­duced in 2015 by Eicher Po­laris Pvt. Ltd (EPPL), a 50:50 joint ven­ture be­tween Eicher Mo­tors and US-based Po­laris, the Multix is find­ing tak­ers for the ver­sa­til­ity it of­fers. The num­ber of Multix sold till date may be a lit­tle hard to as­cer­tain, it for cer­tain is show­ing signs of grow­ing be­yond the vi­sion it was ex­pected to live up to. Mea­sur­ing 3235 mm in length, 1585 mm in width, and 1856 mm in height, the Multix was de­vel­oped to start a new seg­ment of in­de­pen­dent busi­ness­men as buy­ers. Those, look­ing for mo­bil­ity, and a means to ful­fill their busi­ness needs. Ho­molo­gated un­der the cat­e­gory of per­sonal ve­hi­cle, and a busi­ness ve­hi­cle by the Au­to­mo­tive Re­search As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (ARAI), the Multix, states CEO Pankaj Dubey, is a per­sonal mo­bil­ity ve­hi­cle.

Rid­ing on 13-inch dia. wheels, and 155/80 R13 79T tube­less ra­dial tyres, the Multix flaunts a 172 mm ground clear­ance.

Sub­jected to ex­ten­sive test­ing in In­dia and the US of over 18 lakh kilo­me­tres, the ve­hi­cle bor­rows from Po­laris’ ex­per­tise in build­ing ATVs and side-by-sides. The ve­hi­cle also bor­rows from Eicher’s ex­per­tise in build­ing two wheel­ers, trac­tors and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. De­vel­oped to tap a pop­u­la­tion of 5.8 crore in­de­pen­dent busi­ness­men, the Mu­tix makes a strong case to com­bine busi­ness with plea­sure.

Busi­ness and plea­sure

The sales of Multix may tilt in the favour of ‘white plate’ per­sonal ve­hi­cle, its pref­er­ence as a ‘yel­low plate’ com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle is ris­ing. Sub­jected to off-road durability, re­li­a­bil­ity and safety tests, the ve­hi­cle can be reg­is­tered as ei­ther. For com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tion the pref­er­ence is ex­pected to be for the AX+ vari­ant, which has a kerb weight of 683 kg (GVW is 1150 kg), and is priced at Rs.2.43 lakh ex-show­room ap­prox­i­mately. Closer to the orig­i­nal de­sign, and de­vel­oped with an in­ten­tion to ad­dress the needs of those that will in­dulge in mul­ti­ple us­age, the AX+, sans the doors, would make more room for pas­sen­gers. Men­tions Dubey, “The orig­i­nal de­sign (AX+) we cre­ated was a pri­mary model with­out doors. On the ba­sis of cus­tomer feed­back and our re­search, doors were added. This re­sulted in the MX.” The doors of the MX are made from Flex­ituff, a light-weight ma­te­rial that the com­pany has patented. The bon­net of the Multix is also made from this ma­te­rial. It is ac­cord­ing to Dubey, highly durable, re­sis­tant to rust, and easy to re­pair. If the AX+ and MX will meet the crash norms that are ex­pected to be rolled out next year, Dubey avers, “It is de­bate-able to ap­ply pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle crash norms to a ve­hi­cle that has a top speed of less than 60 kmph. Since we have to, we will ad­here to the norms.” The MX is priced at Rs.2.82 lakh exshow­room ap­prox­i­mately, and weighs 775 kg. Its GVW is the same as AX+ at 1150 kg.

On par in terms of load

car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity with many small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles avail­able in the mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Dubey, the Multix, states Dubey, of­fers a dis­tinct ad­van­tage of in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion. Termed as Pror­ide, the sus­pen­sion is made up of hy­draulic McPherson struts at front, and dou­ble wish­bones at the rear. Drive is routed to the rear wheels through a four-speed con­stant mesh gear­box. Ca­pa­ble of clock­ing bet­ter speeds over less than ideal sur­faces should make the Multix ap­peal­ing to those that trans­port per­ish­able com­modi­ties like veg­eta­bles and fruits. De­signed to sus­tain up to 20 per cent more than the spec­i­fied stor­age ca­pac­ity of 418.3 kg, the pos­si­bil­ity of over­load­ing is never far away, the ve­hi­cle, with the glass par­ti­tion be­tween the cargo bay and the cab dis­man­tled, can of­fer a cav­ernous 840-litre stor­age ca­pac­ity. The rear seats are fold­able.

If the ap­pear­ance and di­men­sions of the Multix make it ap­pear unique, a strong tubu­lar chas­sis is at the core. The body pan­els are a com­bi­na­tion of flex­ituff ma­te­rial and steel. Of­fer­ing unique en­gi­neer­ing at­tributes like Power Take Off (PTO), which is called Xport, and can help power a gen­er­a­tor or a wa­ter pump among other util­i­ties with the help of a PTO shaft sold as an ac­ces­sory, the Multix, Dubey elab­o­rates, seeps less than one-litre of diesel per hour. Ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing three kilo-watt power in less than five min­utes, the ve­hi­cle has a 11.5-litre fuel tank. Mak­ing for a 12-hour op­er­a­tion for a PTO linked util­ity, the Multix comes across as ver­sa­tile. Af­fected by de­mon­eti­sa­tion be­cause of high re­liance on cash in ru­ral and semi-ru­ral ar­eas, the Multix has turned its at­ten­tion to ur­ban buy­ers. Its abil­ity to play the role of a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle is draw­ing at­ten­tion. The pan-In­dia mi­gra­tion to BSIV has helped ther Multix to look at newer av­enues and op­por­tu­ni­ties, to grow. The move to BSIV trig­gered a 20 per cent rise in the cost, says Dubey. He men­tions, “The in­cor­po­ra­tion of EGR tech­nol­ogy led to an in­crease in the cost.” Looked upon as an in­vest­ment by a small busi­ness­man, the in­crease in cost is prov­ing to be a chal­lenge. Buy­ers are un­able to un­der­stand the rea­son be­hind the cost in­crease, says Dubey. While new ways are be­ing found to make the buyer un­der­stand, EPPL, to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion, ceased the pro­duc­tion of BSIII Multix in Fe­bru­rary 2017. In March, BSIV Multix pro­duc­tion was started. Some BSIII ve­hi­cles have been left over at the dealer level. EPPL, states Dubey, is tak­ing care of th­ese.

Con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment

Made at a mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing plant at Kukas, Ra­jasthan, spread over an area of 25 acres, and with an an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 60,000 units, the Multix is sub­jected to strin­gent qual­ity checks. With stress on con­tin­u­ous prod­uct im­prove­ment, a cell of 40 en­gi­neers, ac­cord­ing to Dubey looks into cus­tomer de­mand and feed­back. Nec­es­sary changes are in­cor­po­rated to im­prove the qual­ity and value. To en­sure high man­u­fac­tur­ing stan­dards, the Multix is built with the aid of ro­botic weld lines, a mod­ern paint shop, and a fi­nal as­sem­bly line. It will not be an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to de­scribe the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity to

be al­most as flex­i­ble as the ve­hi­cle. Men­tions Dubey, the de­sign flex­i­bil­ity of the Multix is a dou­ble-edged sword. It makes it highly ver­sa­tile, but also leads to some lim­i­ta­tions, ex­presses Dubey. He adds, “The rollcage, which el­e­vates safety, cov­ers 70 per cent of the body struc­ture, also poses cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions.” The roll cage is said to pose cer­tain re­stric­tions in mak­ing sign­tif­i­cant de­sign changes to ar­rive at a open­top ver­sion, and a sin­gle-cab ver­sion. “Based on busi­ness re­quire­ments we

will take a call,” quips Dubey.

Pur­su­ing growth

Fi­nanced by lead­ing pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor banks, and NBFCs, the Multix is sold through a pan-In­dia net­work of 76 deal­ers. Net­work ex­pan­sion is un­der­way, and three new deal­er­ships at Delhi, Farid­abad and Thane were re­cently com­mis­sioned. EPPL plans to bridge the 100 deal­er­ship mark by the end of this year. The tar­get for next year is 150 deal­ers. En­try into ur­ban mar­kets like

Delhi has cre­ated a need to of­fer a CNG ver­sion. EPPL is seed­ing a CNG model, but will take time to launch it. It is per­haps the need to ex­pand the net­work to CNG mar­kets to of­fer the right sup­port. Avers Dubey, that a cen­tre close to the cus­tomer plays a big role in sat­is­fy­ing his needs.

Hav­ing clocked 20 per cent growth last year, EPPL is hop­ing for a stronger growth this year. It is bet­ting on mar­ket reach, and the avail­abil­ity of BSIV model, to en­hance the ur­ban thrust. The need, says Dubey, is to

be cer­tain. Un­cer­tainty is not healthy for busi­ness,” he avers. Eye­ing the ex­ports mar­kets of Nepal and Bangladesh, and in dis­cus­sion for ex­port to cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries, EPPL is look­ing at many new av­enues of growth. The sim­ple yet dandy work­horse na­ture of the Multix should make it ap­peal­ing. Seen in flesh, the Multix, with the front dom­i­nated by a steeply ris­ing bon­net, does look pur­pose-built. The head lamps and park­ing lamps are re­cessed, and sep­a­rated by a faux grille. The bumper dou­bles up as a mould­ing that runs along the lower por­tion of the body.

If the large wind­screen with a sin­gle wiper adds to the tall-ish looks of the Multix, the over­all im­pres­sion is of a semi-for­ward cab lay­out. A ris­ing win­dow­line and wheel arches de­fine the sides, and en­dorse the wedge-shape. The green­house and wheel arches, fin­ished in a shade of black, add a touch of style. The rear is made up of a large trunk lid, held in place by two latches. The tail lamps are built into the rear pil­lars. Vis­i­ble un­der the rear floor, and fit­ted snugly in the tubu­lar chas­sis is an air-cooled sin­gle cylin­der di­rect­in­jec­tion G650 W Greaves Cot­ton en­gine. It belts out 13.4 PS (9.85kW) of power and 37 Nm of peak torque at 1600-2000 rpm. Power is routed through a four­speed con­stant mesh gear­box. The PTO juts out of it.

The Drive

The wide open­ing doors make for easy ac­cess. The large wind­screen and am­ple glass area makes for good vis­i­bil­ity. The sim­ple dash, made up of a com­bi­na­tion of lines, in­cludes an in­stru­ment panel con­tain­ing a speedo, and a fuel and tem­per­a­ture gauge. The gear lever juts out of what could be de­scribed as the cen­tre con­sole. The bench seat presents the pos­si­bil­ity to seat three peo­ple at front. It pro­vides fair amount of sup­port. The rear bench seat can seat three peo­ple. The amount of room avail­able is fair. An amount of noise ac­com­pa­nies the start­ing of the en­gine. The Multix may not score high in re­fine­ment when com­pared to cars, vi­bra­tions are well con­tained. Mov­ing away from stand­still, the Multix may not quickly gain speed, it presents a feel of be­ing a tough work­horse. The tall first cog am­ply hints at a work­horse ori­en­ta­tion. The sec­ond and third cogs bring some speed to the ve­hi­cle. Good mo­men­tum is achieved in the fourth gear. Speeds in the re­gion of 50 kmph are achieved. A race against the clock is not the Multix forte. Rather than speed, the abil­ity of the ve­hi­cle to lug im­presses. If this make the Multix fit to be a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle, its flex­i­ble na­ture im­press­esive, no less.

The ride is su­pe­rior to that of a mini-truck. Less than ideal sur­faces are dis­placed with ease. Bad stretches fail to dis­com­fort the oc­cu­pants. Han­dling is good, and the steer­ing feels di­rect and pre­cise. The need for a power steer­ing is felt though. With an im­pres­sive abil­ity to ma­neou­vre through nar­row spa­ces, the Multix with a turn­ing ra­dius of 3.93 m, of­fers 27.8 kmpl mileage un­der stan­dard test con­di­tions. Of­fer­ing good fuel ef­fi­ciency, the Multix costs as much as a small com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle would. Its trac­tor-like abil­ity to power util­i­ties through a PTO is an added ad­van­tage. The move to BSIV may have in­creased the price of the Multix, its abil­ity to of­fer su­pe­rior flex­i­bil­ity makes it

ap­peal­ing.

ØThe PTO func­tion could power a gen­er­a­tor among other util­i­ties; makes the Multix ver­sa­tile.

1. Tail lights are neatly lo­cated in the rear pil­lars.

2. Multix rides on 155/80 R13 tube­less ra­dial tyres. 3. Re­cessed head­lamps add to the work­horse looks. 4. The en­gine is fit­ted into the tubu­lar chas­sis.

5. The roll cage cov­ers 70 per cent of the body satruc­ture.

6. The Multix scores well on driv­ing er­gonomics.

7. There is good room on of­fer with the gear shifter jut­ting out of the dash.

8. Rear seat can ac­co­mo­date three. 5 7

ØWith the en­gine at the rear, the spare wheel is stacked in the front.

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