|Title: Mahindra & Mahindra SUV XUV 500 at Rs 10.8 lakh|
When Anand Mahindra launched the much-awaited XUV 500 on Sptember 28, 2011 evening, the vice chairman & managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra invited those present to guess the price of the feature-packed sports utility vehicle.
The estimates that flew around amidst the glitz were mostly on the higher side of Rs 13 lakh. Few expected the jaw-dropping price range that was announced 12 hours later: Rs 10.8 lakh (ex-Delhi) for the base version, and Rs 12.88 lakh for the fully-loaded top-end XUV 500 with all-wheel drive.
"Mahindra has hit the sweet spot," proclaimed Hormazd Sorabjee, editor of Autocar India, citing the vehicle's aggressive styling, interior space, price and super premium features such as touch-screen multimedia system and rain-sensing wipers besides all the modern safety features including six airbags. The XUV 500 may well make the going extremely tough for Tata Motors' crossover Tata Aria, which is priced higher but lags behind in features, and may impact top-end Scorpio and even premium off-roaders such as Ford Endeavour.
It looks an ideal vehicle for India's largest utility vehicle maker's global ambitions. "The XUV 500 will get us the high seat in global auto world. It is a strong and bold step towards becoming a globally recognized SUV brand," Anand Mahindra told ET on the sidelines of a press conference in Pune.
The new vehicle would "redefine Mahindra and Mahindra as the Scorpio did nine years ago". Some of the features of the car include cruise control, GPS navigation system, voice-controlled infotainment system with six-inch LCD touch screen with DVD player, CD/MP3, FM, Bluesense technology, full iPod connectivity and six speakers.
With an investment of Rs 650 crore, the first global market to see the XUV 500 will be South Africa this Saturday. This will be followed in the next six months with markets like Australia, Western Europe and Central/South America. Where the Mahindra network is absent, it would use dealers of its recently acquired Korean carmaker SsangYong.
The company, which has a 60 per cent share of the domestic utility vehicle market, has a lot riding on the XUV 500. It has collaborated with international suppliers, tested over 250 prototypes across 2.35 million km in all-weather conditions and in different parts of the world.
To mark the premium aspect of the product it has started the 'Purple Club' where every customer will be allotted a relationship manager at the dealer end for exclusive attention. Promising a "completely different buying experience", around 350 such managers have been trained for the metros.
The hype generated by the highest marketing spend for any Mahindra product ever, has led the SUV's Web site to record 5.2 lakh hits, while 24,000 people have asked for test drives before the launch.
|Authored by: Rahul Bhanot on Fri, Sep 30th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
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