Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has seen the sales of its passenger cars, especially it sports utility vehicles (SUVs) speed past competitors largely on the back of some solidly built offerings and smart pricing. But one other reason that has contributed to a cult-like following for some of its cars, like the Thar and the XUV500, has been an effort on the part of the company to offer young motoring enthusiasts (not necessarily in age, but at heart) the chance to take the road less travelled.
In what the company terms as efforts towards experiential marketing, M&M has been actively promoting off-roading events for its SUVs ó through a division called Mahindra Adventure, and participating in world motorsport championships ó through a division called Mahindra Racing.
The idea is to convey a sense of what M&Mís vehicles stand for, build a globally recognisable automotive brand and facilitate technology transfer into the company that will enable it bring out advanced offerings like high-calibre bikes and electric vehicles in the future.
Around four years back, Mahindra conducted an internal study to evaluate how best to ďcement the tough, rugged DNA of its SUVsĒ, and thatís how the idea of starting Mahindra Adventure came about, says Bijoy Kumar Y, head of Mahindra Adventure. That is the time when Bijoy, a former motoring journalist, moved to M&M and a small team was constituted under him.
M&M already had an adventure property called Great Escape, wherein customers could bring their own cars and drive through the picturesque Indian countryside across terrains like mountains and waterfronts under professional off-roading guidance from M&Mís own instructors.
The carmaker also has around 100 cars of its own that it offers to participants of these events who want to experience how a Mahindra SUV feels like in different terrains. ďA number of participants who drive cars of other makes expressed amazement at the terrain-handling capabilities of Mahindraís SUVs,Ē Bijoy says.
All that off-roading enthusiasts need to do to be a part of these events, which happen around the year in India and even in neighbouring countries, is to log on to the Mahindra Adventure website, register and pay the fees.
To make things more interesting Mahindra Adventure decided to make some of its events competitive by constituting an off-roading trophy. Races are held across India and a winner is selected from each of four zones. These winners come together for the grand finale held at a