Mahindra & Mahindra, has planned to double production capacity of its indigenously developed sports utility vehicle, the XUV500, to expand presence in European and Australian markets. Touted as its first global product, the diesel SUV was recently introduced in the South African market.
“We plan to launch the XUV500 in Australia by the end of the current financial year. Over the next three months, the vehicle would make its debut in markets across Europe, South and Central America,” said Pravin Shah, chief executive of international operations for the company’s automotive and farm equipment sectors.
The vehicle is M&M’s biggest product initiative in the passenger vehicle market since the Scorpio launch of 2002. It arises from the aspiration to emerge as a global SUV player.
Strong demand in the domestic market had compelled a re-look at export strategy soon after its launch in September last year. The XUV500 had clocked 8,000 bookings in the domestic market within 10 days of launch. The vehicle was initially made available only in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Bangalore. In October, the company suspended bookings till January.
Rajan Wadhera, chief executive (technology, product development and sourcing) for M&M, said: “We have started ramping up capacity for the XUV500 at our plant in Chakan (near Pune). We produce 110 units every day and this would nearly double to 160 units by April. This would be sufficient to meet demand in both domestic and overseas markets for the time being.”
The company had earlier said it would be disappointed if it did not achieve at least 20 per cent of total production going for export.
The exported vehicle features a touchscreen multimedia and driver information system, and conforms to European crash regulations. The company has invested Rs 650 crore in developing the vehicle, which does not include the cost of engine and transmission. While the base version, the W6, is available for Rs 10.8 lakh, the top-end variant, W8, comes for Rs 12.88 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The company raised the prices this month to offset higher input costs.
M&M has a 60 per cent share in the Indian SUV market. About 65 per cent of sales for the company come from semi-urban and rural markets. It hopes to strengthen the Mahindra brand in urban centres with the XUV500.