M&M working on new platform for Scorpio

Written by Debabrata Das | MG Arun | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 21 2012, 08:42am hrs
After 10 years of success with its iconic sports utility vehicle (SUV) brand, the Scorpio, automotive major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) on Wednesday said it is working on a new platform for the vehicle.

We are looking at an all-new platform for the Scorpio, Pravin Shah, CEO (automotive division) and member of the group executive board of M&M, told FE. We will ensure that it continues to be an attractive value proposition.

We want to keep the key offerings of the Scorpio... It will continue to be a macho, tough and take-anywhere kind of a car, he added.

A car platform typically includes key engineering and design aspects such as the drivetrain, steering system, wheelbase and engine placement. Once a platform is formed, the body of the car can change, allowing a company to launch multiple products based on the same platform.

Currently, the Scorpio is sold as a sub-R10 lakh SUV and the new version is expected to continue at that price range. The original Scorpio platform is a key product for M&Ms export ambitions and sold around 15,000 units in the export market last fiscal.

Products based on the Scorpio platform have been selling a lot in the export market, said Shah. It has a big market overseas.

To keep the export momentum, M&M has made sure that the Scorpio engine meets Euro V emission norms. Europe and Latin America are the thrust areas for exports and that is why meeting Euro V norms became even more necessary, said Shah.

The Scorpio has been widely credited for the success of M&Ms automotive division. In 2001-02, before the Scorpio was launched, the divisions revenue was R1,827 crore. Ten years later, the divisions revenue in fiscal 2012 was R19,801 crore, more than 10 times the 2001-02 figure.

The success of the Scorpio project was because of the conviction we had in our skills as well as the fact that we accepted we needed hand-holding in certain areas where our skills werent strong enough, said Shah.

M&Ms success stems from a good knowledge of the market it operates in and not trying to do too much too fast, a consultant with a foreign audit and consultancy firm said. He cannot be quoted on individual companies. They have developed the products keeping in mind what the market demands and their attractive pricing has always created a stir in the market.

M&M plans to keep focusing on its core skills making utility vehicles. Our DNA is in the utility vehicle segment and, going forward, we shall and we will continue to focus on that, said Shah. Whether we go into sedans or not will depend on the opportunities that come our way.

Automotive companies depend on the product, said Wilfried Aulbur, managing partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, and former MD & CEO at Mercedes Benz India. Companies first need to identify the customer, their needs and price the product accordingly. The second important thing is branding the car in a right way. His comments werent specific to this story.

M&Ms acquisition of South Korean carmaker SsangYong in 2010 was aligned with the companys plans in the utility vehicle segment. SsangYong was an acquisition to strengthen our core, said Shah. It will strengthen the M&M brand in the SUV segment.

The company has already started work on a joint platform development programme with SsangYong and work on two more products is expected to start soon. The first product in the high-end SUV segment from the SsangYong stable, the Rexton, will be launched in India in two months.