The Union Budget 2013 threw quite a few nasty surprises at auto makers with increased duties for not just imported cars but also for cars having engines bigger than 1.5 liters, measuring more than 4 meters in length and having a ground clearance of more than 170mm.
This is precisely how Govt of India has decided to ‘define a SUV’. Funnily enough, even the Maruti Suzuki SX4 C segment sedan is a SUV as per the above definition.
The higher excise duty has also resulted into an increase in prices of people movers like the Mahindra Bolero, which is the highest selling MUV in India. Govt. of India says that the increase in excise duty is due to the fact that these vehicles occupy more space on the road and result into congestion.
It has now emerged that popular Indian UV maker Mahindra has decided to work its way around the above definition. Mahindra plans to do this by reducing the ground clearance of some of its vehicles to little less than 170mm. This should enable some of the Mahindra vehicles to bypass the above definition and have a more competitive sticker price. The source of this information is the Facebook page of YoungTurks, which has a quote by Dr Pawan Goenka, Head-Automotive of Mahindra. This quote reads as: “Will re-define models to meet 170mm ground clearance”.
The definition of a SUV by Govt. of India shows how flawed some of the decisions of our sarkaar are. It also shows that the car makers will always try to work their way around such obstacles and defeat the very purpose of implementation of such laws.
The only thing that bothers us is if cars like Bolero would continue to be as capable with a reduced ground clearance.