Mahindra XUV500 SUV launched in South Africa: Indian car market can compare notes on frugality

Mahindra has been selling vehicles in South Africa for seven years but sales volumes are still far from impressive. The new Mahindra XUV500 SUV launched in India last week, and the following day in South Africa. If the XUV500 SUV can rake in volumes for M&M, the auto major could move from being an importer in Africa, to a local assembly unit.

In order to assemble vehicles in South Africa that will help M&M turn to localization, the company requires reaching a sales volumes of 5000 to 6000 units a year. Of the contributors, a particular vehicle must account for about 1500 of the sales volume. Mahindra pins their hopes on the XUV500 SUV that will retail for approximately Rs. 1,425,000 for the W6 4×2 and Rs. 1,750,000 for the W8 all wheel drive (AWD)in South Africa. The vehicle comes with a three-year/100 000 km warranty. There’s also the three-year/60 000 km service plan, and roadside assistance is available for the 1st year.

In Brazil, and Egypt, Mahindra operates low volume assembly facilities.  Frugality seems to be the way for M&M when it comes to meeting customer SUV needs at competitive entry price points. The XUV500 SUV will also be exported to Australia and other Asian car markets, apart from Europe in 2012. The vehicle is more than a car for Mahindra now as it takes on the responsibility of improving global brand image for M&M that feels the need to make a mark in the global SUV market.

The XUV500 is the outcome of a 4 year effort that saw 200 people work closely. The new SUV isn’t an India-centric that will be modified as per individual car markets. Rather, this is a global SUV that’s looking at localization in various markets in order to stick to their price range. The 2 or 4 wheel drive variants are powered by a transversely mounted four-cylinder. The 2.2 liter mHawk turbodiesel engine records max power of 103 kW at 3 750 rev/min and max torque of 330 Nm between 1 600 rev/min and 2 800 rev/min.

With independent suspension on all four wheels, this six speed manual transmission AWD goes from two to four-wheel drive because of its interactive torque management system. Fuel efficiency is listed at  7.1 l/100 km. The XUV500 brake system has an electronic brake distribution, four wheel discs with anti-skid ABS, and emergency brake assist. The seven-seater has rear seats that can be folded in for more boot space, and is available in five body colors.

The W8 models (high end variants) come with automatic hill descent and hill hold, and have two-tone leather upholstery. All three XUV500 SUV variants have Intellipark front, Rear Park assist, cruise control, rain sensing windscreen wipers and light-sensing headlamps. Tyretronics will monitor tire temperature and pressure, and the front foglamps remain the same on all 3 variants.

Power windows, remote central locking, dual-zone climate control, and electronically adjustable exterior rear view mirrors that can be angled in if driving in a narrow space, arm the SUV well. Pawan Goenka had this to say. “Clearly the price is very aggressive, as it is in India. We hope to get volumes on this model, and to realize the aspirations we have for this market [South Africa]. This market is very important for us, and we are yet to reach the volumes we want to see in South Africa.”