Mahindra & Mahindra has launched a 0.5 tonne four-wheeler pick-up cargo carrier -- Gio priced at Rs 1.65 lakh, which the company says is the cheapest mini truck in the country.
The Gio is claimed to deliver 27 km to a litre and virtually creates a new segment in the goods carrier space with four wheels instead of three. According to the company the vehicle is meant for plying within towns and cities and is aimed at rural and semi-urban consumers.
M&M feels that there is a ''need gap'' between three-wheeler pickups and the existing mini-truck segment occupied by the Tata Ace and Piaggio's Ape Truk. It hopes that the Gio will capture the space occupied by three-wheeler goods carriers (which cost Rs 1.38 lakh) as well as mini trucks (Rs 2.78 lakh plus). Three wheeler goods carriers have annual sales of 68,000 units while the mini-truck category is higher at 110,000 units.
The Gio is fitted with a petrol engine developed by Kohler of the US. M&M has targeted exports to SAARC countries in six months. Next the company has planned a 0.8-tonne four-wheeler that will compete with the Ace and Truk is scheduled to be launched by the end of the year.
Rajesh Jejurikar, chief of operations (automotive sector), M&M, said, ''We will cater to the combined numbers of the three wheeler goods carrier market as well as the mini truckmarket, wherein we will see an upward and downward migration between the two ends."
According to Jejurikar a mini-truck costs close to Rs278,000 while a three-wheeler costs Rs138,000, and so by paying Rs30,000 more, a three-wheeler customer can easily upgrade to a better and more powerful product," he said.