At the Auto Expo '08, Sourya Biswas spoke to Dr Pawan Goenka, president, auto sector, M&M, wherein he shared details about M&M's latest SUV, the mHawk, amongst other things (and vehicles) from the auto maker.
Congratulations on the launch of the mHawk. What actually prompted the change in name from Eagle to Hawk?
Well, Eagle was a project name, not the name we had decided for branding the engine and closer to the launch we did some research to find how we should brand the engine and we found that mHawk will be a name that really represents the power, technology and agility that we have in this engine.
How has been the response to the mHawk?
Response has been very good. Everyone who has driven the vehicle is very happy with the response that the vehicle is giving in terms of performance….it also gives slower fuel consumption, it also gives lower noise….so it is really in a way win-win-win….and therefore the engine has been really appreciated. In addition to the mHawk engine, on this vehicle we have put in many new electronic features, some of them for the first time in India….for example we have the rain-sensing wiper, we have light-sensing headlamps, we have tyre-pressure monitor, we have reversing sensor….so lot of new features we have put in the vehicle which really makes it a high-technology vehicle with a lot of power and good fuel efficiency.
Power-to-weight ratio has improved considerably, but power actually hasn't. Can the engine be retuned to 140 BHP?
See, when you look at power you should not just look at the one number 120 horsepower…basically the performance of the vehicle depends on how the torque curve is shaped, and the strength of this engine is that it has a very flat peak torque, and also high low-end torque. So if you look at the difference in performances between the older Scorpio engine and the mHawk, you will find that it's a very responsive engine and the 120 horsepower doesn't do justice to what the engine delivers. Going to your question whether it can be retuned to 140 BHP, it cannot be retuned, but later on we can develop a variant of the engine to go to higher powers.
You are showcasing three variants of the Scorpio right here at the Auto Expo. So when can we expect to see them on the roads?
What we are showcasing here are an automatic Scorpio, the automatic-transmission Scorpio which will be launched in four to six months time in the Indian market….we are also showcasing the B10 or the biodiesel Scorpio….the Scorpios that are available today are biodiesel-compliant, B10-compliant, but the fuel is not available so it really cannot be used in that mode. And we are also showing the micro-hybrid, which is a start-stop hybrid….that means when you stop at the traffic-light, the engine will shut down automatically….the moment you press the clutch, it will start again. So that hybrid I going to give you improvement in fuel efficiency and reduces the emission at the traffic signals….that again will be launched in four to six months. The big one, the vehicle that you see here is the full hybrid…this is a parallel hybrid…a controller, a battery….this will take eighteen to twenty-four months before we can launch it.
How has been the response to the Logan till date?
The Logan has done extremely well in terms of customer response….everybody who has bought the vehicle is extremely thrilled….especially fuel efficiency has been segment-leading….we are getting fuel efficiency of 16 – 17 kilometres per litre (kmpl) in the city and 21 – 22 kmpl on the highway, which is very, very good.
We have won many awards. We have got JD Power quality award, IQS award, we have got CSI award, we have got TNS award, in fact we have been judged Car of the Year by one or two magazines….so the response has been very good. We are at about 12 per cent market share for this product, which is roughly what we had expected to get in a very crowded C segment….and we are quite pleased with the way the Logan response has come.
Any concerns about the Renault-Mahindra joint-venture in the future?
No, there is no concern about the Renault-Mahindra joint-venture….it is going full force…the Logan is part of the venture….in fact, as you see here in Auto Expo, Mahindra-Renault have a joint stall…so all the rumours of straining relationships are conjectures.
Can you tell us something about your new MUV Ingenio?
The new Ingenio will be launched during 2008 calendar year. As we have said earlier, this is a MPV…more of a people-carrier than a SUV kind of design and styling…and there is nothing more I can talk about right now but we are very excited about that launch and I think it will give us very good volume growth.
Coming back to the Hawk, some feel it is a bit overpriced considering that it comes available only in the premium VLX trim. So any future plans of introducing lesser variants at lower price points?
Yes, that's a possibility. What we have introduced is actually what we are calling V-series, and VLX is the first variant in the V-series, which is sort of what I would consider middle of the range….and as we move forward, we will probably have a version that has less features and less price, and even a variant that has more features and is priced higher.
Mahindra seems to have built India's answer to the Hummer with the Axe. Would you like to say something on that?
Well, Axe is a project that we are very excited about….you have probably seen videos of the Axe literally climbing walls….we have one on display outside….it's a very rugged vehicle….powerful engine….and right now we have intended it for Army use….it is under test by the Indian Army….we will look at civilian use but first focus is on the Army….and depending on the response we get at the Auto Expo we might look at developing a civilian version.
(Also see: domain-b's exclusive video interview with Dr Pawan Goenka)