M&M looking to low-priced SUVs to drive market

Sports utility vehicles major Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) has embarked on a new mission to cut vehicle costs further and is currently working on a new mass-market SUVs that would see models priced below its Scorpio and XUV 500 models.

Mahindra & Mahindra, the country's leading SUV maker, also introduced the facelifted version of its popular Scorpio SUV at the ongoing 2014 Auto Expo, to counter growing competition.

The low-cost, new generation SUVs, however, will be launched by 2015. Till then, Mahindra will address the market with a makeover of its immensely popular SUV.

M&M, which showcased the Verito Electric at the 2012 Auto Expo, also finally unveiled the vehicle at the ongoing 12th edition of Pan-India motor show.

The company is currently working on 2-3 platforms for the new, low-cost SUV models, which it plans to launch by early 2015 at a price even below that of Scorpio.

Mahindra, meanwhile, reported a 13.77 per cent fall in January sales at 42,685 vehicles compared with 49,503 units sold during the same month a year ago.

Passenger vehicles sales, including utility vehicles and the Verito sedan, totalled 19,792 units in January 2014 against 26,555 units sold in January 2013, the company said in a release.

''The first month of 2014 did not witness any improvement in the overall industry performance and the situation remains subdued. The recent repo rate hike will in coming months escalate the rate of interest on car loans impacting consumer sentiment,'' Pravin Shah, chief executive, Automotive Division at M&M, had earlier said while announcing the sales figures.

''We hope the upcoming Auto Expo, which will showcase new products and technology, will provide a trigger in giving a much-needed boost to the auto industry and overall sentiment,'' he added.

M&M's domestic sales stood at 40,324 units during January 2014 against 47,841 units during January 2013. The four-wheelers commercial segment sold 15,100 units, while the 3-wheelers segment clocked 4,710 units in January 2014. Exports for the month stood at 2,361 units.

Besides its automotive business, the $17-billion Mahindra group, employing over 185,000 people in over 100 countries, is also present across various other sectors, including technology, aerospace, defence, financial services, hospitality, retail and real estate.