In another pre-Expo launch, Mahindra & Mahindra launched its new range of commercial vehicles in the 0.5 tonne to 49 tonne range.
The two trucks launched, the MN31 and MN25 are all-new vehicles that have been developed ground-up, instead of merely being lifted from the Navistar range. M&M have invested Rs 650 crore in developing the new range of trucks, which are being built at the Chakan plant. An investment to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore has been made in the Chakan plant itself, of which Rs 2,500 crore has been invested in the Joint Venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and Navistar. The collaboration between the two companies dates back to the 1960s when the two worked on tractor production.
The new trucks that have been launched are cab-forward models, which have been designed mainly with Indian engineering skill, however some amount of expertise has been borrowed from Navistar's North American and Brazilian resources. The company interviewed more than 500 individuals and drove over 10,000 km with them in order to understand what exactly HCV customers desired.
The new range of trucks has chassis frames that are 20 per cent thicker than those of regular trucks, high pressure brakes and heavy duty front and rear axles. The gearbox is supplied by Eaton.
The trucks have also been subjected to heavy duty testing - two rounds of four coaster testing, equivalent to 1.1 million kilometres of road, as well as 1 million kilometres of track tests.
The trucks are powered by 7.2-litre Maxx Force engines that are Euro 3 and 4 ready, putting out a power of 200-325 bhp. The engine is an existing Navistar unit that has been modified from a 2-valve unit to a 4-valve unit.Other modifications include changes to the Fuel Injection system and turbocharger.
The cabin is spacious and designed around driver ergonomics, featuring ECE R29 safety knobs and tilt and trelliscopic steering, developed and produced in India.
M&M will initially open in 150 MNAL (Mahindra Navistar Automotive Limited) dealers, with some of their existing LCV dealers also stocking the HCVs. Eventually, there will be as many as 1,000 sales and service units that stock spares as well.
The new range of trucks will go on sale before April 1, 2010. M&M is looking at selling as many as 8,000-10,000 units in the first year, and exporting RHD trucks to SAARC & ASEAN countries and LHD units to South America and Russia.
There are a total of 7 variants that will be launched in this calendar year, with M&M displaying two more of the range - a 40 tonne and a 49 tonne tractor/trailer unit - on the 6th of January at their pavillion at the Auto Expo. These vehicles have been built on a modular chassis platform.