Mahindra Counters Dieselgate With New Engine Lineup

The automaker has developed two new, versatile multipurpose platforms, one due this year and the next in 2017. It also is working on six small eco-friendly engines, three diesels and three gasoline models.

Sudhakar Shah, Correspondent

March 17, 2016

3 Min Read
XUV500 at vanguard of automakerrsquos newproduct cadence
XUV500 at vanguard of automaker’s new-product cadence.

MUMBAI – By adding gasoline engines to its aging diesel lineup, Mahindra & Mahindra no longer is standing pat with a losing hand.

India’s runaway leader in light-truck sales – delivering roughly 50% more units in 2014 than second-place Tata, according to WardsAuto data – was a victim of collateral damage during last fall’s Volkswagen scandal, when the  German automaker admitted to the government it had sold 314,000 cars equipped with software designed to produce misleadingly favorable emissions readings.

Stuck not only without a gasoline-engine model but with most of its 11 boxy, lackluster vehicles powered by noisy, outdated mHawk diesels, Mahindra’s 2015 sales slumped to 378,225 units, down 17.6% from 444,898 three years earlier. Market share contracted to 11.9% after peaking at 13.5%.

But change already was in the works as Dieselgate unfolded globally. Mahindra was aware of the shortcomings of its local engines, as evidenced by annual exports of more than 6,000 vehicles with updated engines. Management, meanwhile, was refocusing on a younger customer base.

Accordingly the automaker has developed two new, versatile multipurpose platforms, one due this year and the next in 2017. It also is working on six small eco-friendly engines, three diesels and three gasoline models.

Two popular models already are on the road. The first was the XUV 500, a 7-seat fullsize SUV powered by a 2.2L turbocharged diesel generating 140 hp and 243 lb.-ft. (330 Nm) of torque.

More than 100,000 of the attractively styled SUVs have been sold in fewer than three years.

Mahindra followed with the TUV 300 powered by a 1.5L twin-turbocharged diesel making 80 hp and what the automaker calls best-in-class torque of 170 lb.-ft. (230 Nm) at 1,500 to 2,250 rpm.

On Jan. 15 Mahindra launched the KUV100, a small SUV developed in-house and priced at just Rs442,000 ($6,800). The gasoline version’s 1.2L mFalcon G 80 mill creates 82 hp and 84 lb.-ft. (114 Nm) of torque, while the 1.2L D 75 common-rail, direct-injected diesel turns out 77 hp and 140 lb.-ft. (190 Nm) of torque. Both have a 5-speed manual transmission.

The diesel’s fuel economy is rated at 59.6 mpg (3.9 L/100 km) and the gasoline model’s is 43.6 mpg (5.4 L/100 km). Both new engines are turbocharged.

The two KUV100 mills replace the older-generation mHawk 2.2L diesel, with Mahindra preparing to phase out the traditional mHawks on all its models over the next year or two.

“The launch of the KUV100 is a defining moment in the automotive journey of Mahindra,” Executive Director Pawan Goenka says. “The KUV100 is our first foray into (developing a) ground-up petrol engine and with it we are defining a new SUV sub-segment and targeting a new customer group.”

Adds Pravin Shah, president and chief executive-automotive, “Being a listening organization, we identified that today’s youth would want an SUV that helps them stand out, that reflects their personality and enhances their lifestyle.”

Mahindra’s product overhaul continues by replacing the 2.2L and 2.5L engines in its popular Bolero, Scorpio, Thar and Xylo models with a new 1.9L engine recently approved by the Automotive Research Assn. of India, an R&D and testing group jointly run by the auto industry and government. The engines’ features are unchanged except for the reduction in engine power.

The automaker also soon will import the Tivoli, a premium-segment compact SUV manufactured by its Korean subsidiary Ssangyong and designed to compete against the Hyundai Creta and Renault Duster.

This transformation has been made possible by the establishment of a research center two years ago in suburban Detroit. At the same time, a Rs6.5 billion ($100 million) R&D Center was set up in Chennai, India. Both facilities are allowing Mahindra to develop indigenous designs more quickly and at a lower cost.

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