The story of Mahin­dra

NZSUV - - Contents - Story by ROSS MACKAY Im­ages, file

With an ex­cit­ing new SUV on the mar­ket, the XUV500, we’re about to see more of Mahin­dra on our roads. This big, di­verse com­pany is a true suc­cess story.

Mahin­dra is a bona fide In­dian suc­cess story. And the Mum­bai-based multi­na­tional’s XUV500 SUV could well be one of the most sig­nif­i­cant new ar­rivals here in years.

Though bet­ter known in New Zealand for its trac­tors and pro­saic Pik-up ute, Mahin­dra is a very se­ri­ous in­ter­na­tional player, one with in­ter­ests span­ning 20 key in­dus­tries in ar­eas as di­verse as aero­space, con­struc­tion, de­fence, agri­cul­tural and, of course, au­to­mo­tive.

From hum­ble be­gin­nings in steel trad­ing in 1945, the Mum­bai-based com­pany moved into mo­tor ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion (mak­ing Willys Jeeps un­der li­cence) in 1947 and – long story, short – is now a US$17.8 bil­lion (turnover) For­tune 2000 com­pany with 200,000 em­ploy­ees and a pres­ence in over 100 coun­tries.

Not only is Mahin­dra now the largest trac­tor man­u­fac­turer in the world (with pro­duc­tion of 300,000 an­nu­ally), it is also the com­pany that saved Korean ute and SUV man­u­fac­turer Ssangyong from bank­ruptcy in 2010, buy­ing a 70 per­cent share in the com­pany, and more re­cently adding Peu­geot Mo­tor­cy­cle and Ital­ian de­sign house Pin­in­fa­rina to its sta­ble of sub­sidiaries.

The com­pany has al­ready made ma­jor in­roads into elec­tric ve­hi­cles, hav­ing bought the Ban­ga­lore-based sec­tor pi­o­neer Reva in 2010 and now sell­ing a

num­ber of Mahin­dra Reva mod­els on the In­dian mar­ket, in­clud­ing the funky e2o. Chair­man Anand Mahin­dra told share­hold­ers at its 70th AGM this year that be­cause of the ex­per­tise across the group’s broad range of di­vi­sions, au­ton­o­mous trac­tors were next.

Mahin­dra was also a founder con­struc­tor/mem­ber of the FIA’S new clean, green, For­mula E al­l­elec­tric sin­gle-seater mo­tor rac­ing series, fin­ish­ing fifth in the teams stand­ings in 2015. The com­pany has also been in­volved with a fac­tory-backed Mahin­dra Rac­ing Moto3 team, which scored its first world cham­pi­onship moto win at this year's Dutch Grand Prix at Assen.

Here in New Zealand, Mahin­dra’s au­to­mo­tive in­ter­est is rep­re­sented by lo­cal distrib­u­tor Nichibo Ja­pan Trad­ing Co. Ltd, which sup­plies ve­hi­cles to mar­kets in­clud­ing the UK and Rus­sia. It is New Zealand’s largest whole­saler of Ja­panese used ve­hi­cles, re­spon­si­ble for ap­prox­i­mately 50,000 units a year. It also runs its own ship­ping com­pany, com­pli­ance net­work, fi­nance arm and rental ve­hi­cle com­pany, as well as its first foray into new ve­hi­cle dis­tri­bu­tion – Mahin­dra Au­to­mo­tive and Trac­tors.

That com­pany now has 26 deal­ers across the coun­try. Most are in ru­ral ar­eas where they have found a ready mar­ket for Mahin­dra’s range of small to medium size trac­tors and Pik-up, Ge­nio and Thar util­i­ties.

But all the ma­jor main cen­tres are cov­ered as well. A good thing, be­cause – on the ev­i­dence of the XUV500 SUV – that is where much of the fu­ture growth in this coun­try will come.

The XUV500 (pro­nounced five dou­ble-o) was the first of an all­new line of Mahin­dras de­vel­oped for a global au­di­ence (as op­posed to the lo­cal mar­ket, then sold glob­ally like the Pik-up and Ge­nio). Both front-wheel drive and (on-de­mand) AWD ver­sions are avail­able, priced at $36,990 for the for­mer and $39,990 for the lat­ter.

The XUV500 bridges the gap that has so far ex­isted in the lo­cal mar­ket be­tween smallto-medium two-row, five-seat mod­els (like Mazda’s CX5, Honda’s CRV and Toy­ota’s RAV4) and larger three-row, seven seaters like Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Ford’s Ter­ri­tory.

With its dis­tinc­tive – if a lit­tle fussy – mix of curves, edges and min­i­mal over­hangs front and rear it could pass for a com­pact, Suzuki Vi­tara-class SUV. Stand be­side one, though, and you re­alise it’s more Mit­subishi Out­lander or Holden Cap­tiva.

Mahin­dra here has been wait­ing for the auto ver­sion of the XUV to turn up so they can start building aware­ness among SUV buy­ers, and lo­cal ex­ecs be­lieve they can sell as many as 200 a year.

Cur­rent plans cen­tre on adding an up­dated Pik-up and a petrol-fu­elled XUV500 in 2017, then, two years later, a sec­ond ‘global’ model – a Hilux/ranger sec­tor util­ity – cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped in Mahin­dra’s US de­sign of­fice just out­side Detroit.

XUV500 bridges the gap be­tween medium and large SUVS and should be a pretty good seller here.

The Mahin­dra Pik-up is a ca­pa­ble farmer’s friend that’s set to be up­dated in 2017.

Mahin­dra fac­to­ries are teem­ing with 200,000 em­ploy­ees; they build 300,000 trac­tors a year and are in­volved in aero­space, con­struc­tion, de­fence and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries.

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