It's 'LUV' of a different kind for Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra



It seems 'LUV' is in the air in the automobile industry. While Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) has fallen for its new 'Life Utility Vehicle' Ertiga, for Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M)-owned South Korean firm Ssangyong Motor, it is the 'Leisure Utility Vehicle' Actyon Sports that it is smitten with.

As companies look to create new segments in the already crowded automotive market and make a differentiation, new acronyms are being invented to attract customers.

In January, when Ssangyong Motor Co (SMC) President and Chief Executive Lee Yoo-il launched the 'Actyon Sports' — a model that resembled a pick-up vehicle — the firm described it as South Korea's "first LUV (Leisure Utility Vehicle)".

Dubbing the model as "the perfect vehicle for outdoor life", SMC said: "Considering the dramatic increase in outdoor and extreme sports population, 'Actyon Sports' proactively responded to the needs of the customers who enjoy leisure activities".

So much was SMC in 'LUV' with Actyon Sports that Yoo -il had said it "is the new flagship model of Ssangyong Motor that will expand the scope of automotive culture and bring a new sensation to the Korean automotive market".

For a company that was struggling with debt till M&M acquired it in 2011, it is not surprising that SMC has bet big on its newfound 'LUV'.

"Actyon Sports will play an important role as a driving force to achieve 2012 sales target and get Ssangyong Motor back on track," he had said then.


Back in India, Maruti Suzuki also needed to find new avenues to keep its leadership position, especially considering the fact that its market share in the Indian passenger vehicles segment, which stood at 26.18 lakh units, went down to 38.44 per cent in the last financial year. Thus, came the LUV — 'Life Utility Vehicle' — in the form of a seven-seater van 'Ertiga'. "Ertiga strengthens the product portfolio of the market leader and also creates an all new Life Utility segment," MSIL said while launching the vehicle.

Explaining why the company needed to fall for LUV, MSIL Managing Director and Chief Executive Shinzo Nakanishi said: "Many urban families in India are now looking for a vehicle that offers more space and flexibility than a sedan, without being bulky, bland and expensive like a utility vehicle." These families are currently having to compromise, and settle for a vehicle that does not meet their lifestyle needs, he added.

Nevertheless, is there a possibility of the two LUVs clashing in India in the near future? Unlikely.

M&M President (automotive and farm equipment sectors) Pawan Goenka said the company is "not at present" planning to launch their LUV in the country.