The Thars role in our portfolio is to drive imagery

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 14 2014, 06:31am hrs
A true SUV offers 4WD capability to take on any terrain, says Vivek Nayer, chief marketing officer, Automotive Division, Mahindra and Mahindra, when we talk to him after spending a few days with the Mahindra Thar. The Thar CRDe is positioned as a hardcore off-roader for urban dwellers, and the Thar DI is the inexpensive cousin that is positioned as rural style-seeker, Nayer adds. In an interaction with FEs Vikram Chaudhary, he explains that the increasing popularity of this SUV can be attributed to experiential marketing, its go-anywhere-capability and the fact that more people in the metros are now choosing the Thar as their second or third car option for recreational purposes. Excerpts:

How will you describe the Thar

Cult off-roader.

How did the Thar fare in FY14

The Thar is a niche product. Although it grew over 10% in sales last year, its role in our portfolio is to drive imagery.

Are you planning to launch a more luxurious version of the Thar

Continuous improvement is a norm at Mahindra. We will keep you informed as and when we decide.

Will the Thar some day participate in international rally championships such as the Dakar Rally

On the home turf, the Thar won overall second place in the gruelling Desert Storm extreme rally in 2013. We have no firm plans of entering the Dakar Rally as yet and the vehicle of choice is also undecided. As of now, our goal is to make a big impact on the national rallying circuit, which we have done with the Thar and the Super XUV500.

Is the Thar a status symbol or a hardcore off-roading tool

For many of its customers, the Thar is an affordable but true off-roader. Incidentally, it is also been perceived as a status symbol to flaunt as it says something about the distinctive taste of its owner. No other car this side of Rs50 lakh garners as much attention as you would get driving in the Thar.

We have seen people in the metros choosing the Thar as their second or third car option for recreational purposes. Why

People in the metros are increasingly heading out and looking to break free from mundane life and are wanting to, as we say at Mahindra, live young, live free. The Mahindra Adventure initiative was conceptualised based on this very insight and the Thar has been seamlessly merged into the whole programme. The Thar has its brand attributes of go-anywhere, tough and rugged vehicle and hence is the face of Mahindra Adventure. The Thar is one of its kind available in India thats got legendary looks, which is widely recognisable to what Mahindra as a brand originally stood for. It is the only hardcore go-anywhere diesel SUV available below R10 lakh which lives up to its core brand promise. We are making people learn off-roading and have opened our Off-Road Training Academy at Igatpuri, near Nasik.

How much has the Mahindra Research Valley (MRV) contributed to the development of the Thar

The current Thar is a result of our Nasik and Kandivali based teams. However, going forward, MRV would play an important role in its development.

What is the design philosophy behind the retro looks of the Thar

Mahindra began its automotive journey by assembling the Willys jeep in 1945. The Thar is an extension of our legacy and testimony of the successful journey for the past 60-odd years. The Thar can be called a retro modern vehicle thats got the heritage cult looks and the performance of an SUV.