Exclusive Interview: Vivek Nayer, Senior VP, Marketing and Automotive, Mahindra

|
Added in: Features

Vivek-Nayer

Mahindra Group is getting aggressive by the day in the auto sector. The company recently acquired two car brands – the Reva electric car, and Korean SUV maker Ssangyong Motors. This was preceded by a turnaround of the stagnant Logan sales that Mahindra almost magically managed. The company also has its newly developed indigenous range of products ready to be launched in the Indian market. Amit Chhangani talks with Vivek Nayar, Senior VP, Marketing and Automotive, Mahindra & Mahindra about all the action we are about to witness

Mahindra has traditionally been known as India’s largest UV manufacturer. Now with the acquisition of Reva, the transition into becoming a full-fledged maker of cars seems to have begun. What is the strategy that Mahindra wants to follow as it strives towards becoming a mainstream car maker.

If you look at it, it’s not any car that would qualify as a Mahidra. If you look at the Logan, it offers space, it offers great fuel efficiency with its diesel engine, and it’s a very reliable and durable car. All of these values are values which are generally associated with Mahindra vehicles. So apart from the UVs, even the car that we are backing has all the qualities that are associated with our UVs. So Mahindra’s brand DNA will reflect in even the cars that we come up with.

So Mahindra wants to be present in the Indian market across all mainstream segments?

Yes we want to be a full range player. We are already manufacturing everything from two-wheelers to trucks. We have cars, we have SUVs, we have UVs, we have commercial vehicles – so we already have a very wide range, and then we finding gaps and plugging them.

How’s the Logan doing after Mahindra decided to take care of the brand sans Renault?

It’s doing really well. From the 300 units per month we were doing 6-7 months ago, we are doing 900 per month now, so the volumes have grown three fold.

What new products is Mahindra & Mahindra coming up with in 2011?

We don’t talk about our future products, but whenever they arrive, they will be based on what consumers want. Even what we have done so far with the Logan, driving the volumes up three times, is based on what consumer wants.  From the rationalized price for the variants, to the new TVC which says Logan Loves India, everything is based on consumer feedback. In future also, we will be taking feedback from the consumers and whatever they tell us, we will take that into consideration and act accordingly.

So how successful has been the new TV campaign for the Logan?

People have loved this campaign, as it is talking about space and fuel efficiency which are the two biggest virtues of the car. After watching the commercial, those who have already bought the car nodded in agreement saying ‘yes, we agree with this’. Potential owners saw the ad and went and spoke the owners and asked whether this is true and they said ‘yes’. And therefore the volumes have gone up three times.

Are we expecting an upgrade on the Scorpio as well in some time to come?

All our products get their due refreshes. Depending on the time frames, which are sometimes three years, sometimes four years, sometimes five years we upgrade our products.  That’s the strategy that we adopt at Mahindra.

By when can we expect the W201, or the Mahindra World SUV on the Indian roads?
(Smiles) No comments

You have recently acquired the Reva electric car brand. Electric cars are still a very small niche today, so how do you plan to bring electric cars like Reva to the mainstream market?

Electric cars are a niche today, but this segment is going to grow. And our strategy on the Reva will depend entirely on how the market evolves. The point is that now we have the technology with us, and not just electric, even CNG and other alternative technologies.

So if we take the example of CNG, we have the product and the tech with us, and many of our vehicles, including three-wheelers, pick-up trucks and passenger cars are available with the CNG option. Now it depends on how the CNG roll-out happens across the country. Right now, only 12 to 14 cities have the CNG infrastructure available, but if the government decides to go to 200 cities with the CNG option, we won’t have any problem with it as we are already prepared with our products.

Similarly with the electric vehicles, it will depend on how the infrastructure develops across the country. Also, it will depend on how consumers accept the new concepts and technologies.  The government on its part has announced some really good incentives on electric cars in the country. So, while the Reva is a niche today, who knows if it grows into a much bigger segment in the times to come!

Your recently introduced the Thar SUV in India. Which other countries will the Thar be exported to?

The Thar is already being exported to South Africa, and it will be exported to more countries as well in the times to come. You’ll have to wait and see.

Gio and Maxximo pick-ups are doing well in the commercial segment, and are used for load-hauling. Can we expect any passenger variants for these vehicles, like Tata did with their Ace platform?

Gio and Maxximo are indeed doing very well. However, Gio and Maxximo are not just truck launches, they are platform launches.And these platforms may be used in diversified applications in times to come. So you may see a passenger variant of these platforms in the future.

Mahindra have announced that their lifestyle adventure event ‘Mahindra Great Escape’ would become bigger and better. So what is it that you guys are exactly going to do?

First of all, we will do many more Great Escapes than we are doing currently.  The number of events that happen during the year will go higher substantially. Then we will go to more parts of the country, and take it across the length and breadth of India. Also, some of the events will be much bigger than the usual events. So we’ll have the regular events and some really big events. We’re still thinking and planning it out. We got Bijoy Kumar Y from BSM (Former editor, BS Motoring) aboard to take care of these off-roading events for us across India. We will create a community of Mahindra owners called Mahindra Club. However, the entry will be restricted only to those who have a Mahindra off-roading vehicle.