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Old 29th October 2016, 21:28   #1
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Default Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

When M&M came up with NuvoSport after axing the Quanto [still visible on its website] and was parked next to the TUV 3OO, something just didn't feel right.

Most of us would agree that NuvoSport should not have been conceptualized at all. Those of you who disagree, I would like to ask as to why should TUV & NuvoSport co-exist, what is the advantage of choosing one? Just that neither really appeal as far as looks go.

TUV 3OO, nice SUV, decent ride, handling & space, but as usual, M&M launched it a bit hurriedly, especially when you see, they did update the engine & the BHP figures were upped from 80 to 100 PS. Why do that? Why not launch a sorted, niggle free product at one go? The less said about the AMT variants, the better. The TUV is picking up on sales count though, the NuvoSport is DOA [dead on arrival] product.

TUV AMT issue thread

KUV 1OO appears to lose steam now and frankly, it never appealed. This one product had the ability to do a Kwid for M&M in that segment. The quality bits are iffy and so is the NVH, the fascination with a 3 cylinder engine should stop. The rear three quarter angle is the weirdest and the KUV looks severely under-tyred while it has decent contact patch wearing the 185 section rubber.

I have heard the suspension/tie-rods/shock absorbers giving away. Had Mahindra given it more time, commitment, would have kept an eye on vendor parts and the design team as well as the team responsible for tuning the suspension, we might have seen a winner, but that finesse isn't expected from Mahindra, so the result is almost out for this car as well.

If we look at the KUV thread on Team-BHP, it will be apparent that there were FE issues plaguing it. The amount of disinterest shown by fellow BHPians sums up the car perfectly. Concept is/was nice for KUV, but proportions flawed.

I do not understand the rationale behind launching one product after another and neither are a sales success thanks to the haste in every decision. Why is M&M in such a hurry that its newly launched products continue to visit the SVC for one issue or the other and thus, leaving a bad experience at the end of the day. Why should a new car have issues/niggles? Explains a bit as to why they are sales dud.

The first monocoque SUV from M&M in form of XUV 5OO sure has some strengths else not many cars costing 15/20L sell 3,000 units on an average per month. The deal is further sweetened by the combo of an AT and ant AT in AWD avatar.
The design [still] is not to everyone's taste and IMO, the classic XUV appeared more macho than the current one. M&M is slowly improving upon this product which is reflected in sales and to less no of glitches reported now, but whatever issues are there, they are mostly because of less priority given to QC and on vendor supplied parts.

The Scorpio's platform is pretty wide, this SUV starts at an ex-showroom of approx 9.75L for bare bones S2 variant with M2Di engine and stretches over 15.5L for the AT + 4WD combo. Despite this stretch the S10 owners get the same flimsy door opening lever, same dashboard [with chrome & a screen for top-end variant]

While the 4WD variant sees much improvement in ride, handling and steering feel department, it still needs to be fine tuned. The brakes don't inspire confidence and you have to rely on downshifting if you are really gunning your SUV.

As covered in my ownership thread, QC is for a toss, too many parts changed. While I haven't been stranded anywhere, running each time to SVC to get parts replaced isn't really an experience I look forward to. Why not make it right the first time round?

See Joy's issues with his 4WD. Link

Coming to Bolero, I haven't driven the Bolero+ I have driven the M2Di Bolero a lot as well as the the older Bolero and the older Bolero was far better. It was more comfortable and the engine had better NVH. This current Bolero, when you leave the C pedal in 1st, it will stall if A pedal is not brought to rescue. Just like a typical 3 cylinder lower capacity engine which iroically it is not. But then, it sells. It is reliable and is built to withstand abuse which it does. The older Bolero too could withstand abuse and was much better to drive and be driven in. TUV is slowly filling its shoes but folks are still not warming upto the 3 cylinder engine with common rail.

Had I been Mahindra, I would have trimmed the products on offer. Would have axed the NuvoSport/Quanto, the Verito, KUV 1OO*.

Xylo would have been available only for the taxi segment in one trim and another would be available for the family in fully loaded trim.

Ssangyong's premium products can see the showroom floor but only when parts and service is in order. Don't want the customers to feel as if they are buying a high-end SUV by making them wait for parts.

*The concept for KUV is nice IMO, just that they hurried with their end product.

At the same time, would do away with current set of designers and replace the guys who check the vendor parts for QC and or equip them with better hardware/software to test a product.

Haven't wasted server space on Verito and family.

Last edited by Sheel : 30th October 2016 at 21:54.
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Old 1st November 2016, 10:56   #2
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st November 2016, 14:17   #3
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Thank you Sheel for this thread! I agree with your views here except the KUV1OO design. I personally find it downright ugly and incomplete car.
Mahindra always launches their products in a haste and messes in one or the other areas. Back in 2005, when I joined M&M as a trainee, I had a chance to visit their plants. While I was at the Zaheerabad plant, which manufactures three wheelers, Mahindra Alfa, I noticed its resemblance to Bajaj's three wheeler , I think name was GC, not sure though. When I informally asked people around, they conceded the fact that Alfa is exact copy of GC! Parts, vendors, engine everything is same. The engineers were pressurized by M&M boffins to come up with a product in a short time. What they did was, they approached vendors who supplied parts to Bajaj. Got the designs. Changed a bit on the face so that it doesn't exacty look alike. And rest everything was kept same. They saved on rigorous testing and prototype building activities. Market turnaround was very quick.
I am not sure this story is to be believed or not, but looking at the scenario then, I did belive.

I also perceive M&M as superstitious. Since Bolero and Scorpio days, their obsession with the names ending with alphabet 'O' is never ending. Look at their launches - XUV5OO, TUV3OO, KUV1OO, VERITO, GUSTO, CENTURO, MOJO
I am sure they have concluded NuvoSport didn't do well because it doesn't end with the 'O' alphabet.
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Old 1st November 2016, 14:21   #4
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

So, Mahindra is becoming Tata. With the reported quality issues I can see it wearing the Tata shoes (Indica days) with respect to poor QC and low level of reliability. Though Tata is on the roll with improvement in design, interior quality and hopefully mechanical bits, people still steer away from Tata fearing frequent breakdowns and poor service quality.

What boosted the sales of Mahindra were relatively better reliability with respect to Tata and toughness/abuse friendly nature and focus to its core strength-SUV's. The corrective steps you have highlighted are perfect and quite necessary. Today buyers don't have that much of patience to deal with quality issues after spending good amount of money. And there is enough competition in every segment to attract the buyers.
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Old 1st November 2016, 15:20   #5
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

I think that's a wee bit harsh analysis of Mahindra's passenger vehicles strategy. They've made two or three bloopers in recent times, I agree -

1) Continuing with Logan and spending money on development of Verito Vibe. After dissolving the Renault JV, they should have let go of Logan platform.
2) Launch of NuvoSport. Anyway, its unlikely that they spent a significant amount of money on its development.
3) Mahindra's Kinetic acquisition was right but they should have taken the Royal Enfield route of introducing lifestyle products, instead of ordinary commuter bikes. A Mahindra Thar on 2 wheels was required.

Unlike Tata, Mahindra has more or less focussed on its strengths - UVs (of S and M variety). Even their Swift competitor has SUV looks. I haven't been following KUV100 thread, but if it has some issues, remember that this is their first car platform with new engines. Their next iteration is likely to be better.

I think Mahindra is overall on the right path when it comes to product development, marketing and image that they want to project. When there are 20 manufacturers competing amongst each other, it helps to have Mahindra's image.

Last edited by smartcat : 1st November 2016 at 15:22.
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Old 1st November 2016, 15:57   #6
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
Mahindra's Kinetic acquisition was right but they should have taken the Royal Enfield route of introducing lifestyle products, instead of ordinary commuter bikes. A Mahindra Thar on 2 wheels was required.
Well said!

Niche segments should have been their playing field. Given their image from the Jeep days onwards, the Mojo should have been conceptualised as a dual-purpose on/off-road motorcycle.

Anyway, I'm glad they're resurrecting the BSA brand and re-introducing the Jawa name in India.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
Continuing with Logan and spending money on development of Verito Vibe. After dissolving the Renault JV, they should have let go of Logan platform.
Certainly, the Verito Vibe should never have been developed! But the Logan platform is too good (at that price) to have been let go of! More so, since Mahindra don't have any other "proper" car platform even now (SsangYong Chairman would never sell well in India).

They needed to do to the Logan exactly what Tata had done to transform the Vista into the Bolt.

Its Dacia-derived low cost interiors may be quite ordinary & uninspiring, but the Logan/Verito is an excellent mechanical package!

Both, the JV and later Mahindra, simply failed to extract the best out of the Logan platform. The Renault-Nissan Alliance managed to fare better with the Duster/Terrano & Lodgy.
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Old 1st November 2016, 17:01   #7
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Spot on analysis Sheel. I would like to add a few points as well after owning a Bolero for almost 5 years -
1. The Bolero platform has too many variants and service centre can't keep track of them. Starting from different hose pipes for radiators to the suspension bits, there are too many differences between the variants. This results in long waiting periods for parts and sometimes incorrect parts being shipped even after the long wait.
2. Mahindra can easily provide the 105 bhp engine in a Bolero like they do in the export model Bolero Pickup DC turbo. Many people who don't want to opt for the Thar due the soft top and the current Bolero as it is underpowered could go for that option.
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Old 1st November 2016, 17:12   #8
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

well , If they continue on this path , they are going to lose a lot of return customers . I personally know of customers who got the new generation xuv 500 (the first batch) sold them and bought Toyota fortuners and Innovas Why are they always in such a hurry to bring in new products without conducting proper research and development ? . A year old Thar has rust all over the chassis and body! Random parts fail on scorpios too . These days customers are willing to pay more to get a good quality product rather than buy a cheaper priced product and end up spending on repairs .
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Old 1st November 2016, 17:18   #9
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

The XUV was a gamechanging product for India. They sent designers to many parts of the world and took feedback on what the global expectations from an affordable SUV were. I saw a video describing the development process at a conference that was sponsored by Mahindra-it was a Lean Manufacturing event and Mahindra also showcased some of the Kaizens that they had deployed in their plant to improve quality and productivity.
I was surprised to read about the KUV niggles - they seemed to have implemented six sigma practices right upto their vendors. Quality issues should have been addressed at the design stage itself.
I liked the Quanto/Nuvosport for what it had to offer-it was a decently priced comfortable vehicle that was fuel efficient and had a very unique seating arrangement.
As for the Bolero, it is still a work in progress but the market laps it up so the manufacturer does not think it needs to be improved. A Bolero with a better ride and safety accessories is still the ideal SUV for the middle class.
The Scorpio is good but I find the ergonomics to be flawed. I did not like the rear seat-it was too bench-like and the last rows are very uncomfortable.
I think there's a lack of synergy between the strategy, product development and R&D and marketing teams in the company. If you wanted to launch a hatchback sized all terrain vehicle, at least the option of a 4WD should have been there. Even the Swift gets a 4WD option in other markets.
Going forward, I think that consumers would expect more mature products from the company. The Verito was a good Sedan. It had lots of space, good fuel efficiency and a very nice ride. Keeping these strengths intact, they could have improved upon the aesthetics. Instead, it continues to suffer because of that inherent flaw.
I am also not sure about the future launches from the company. A new Bolero is good, but what about launches in 2018 or 2020? With Tata, we know that the Nexon and Kite are coming up-and they are contemporary looking cars. The Verito would look out of place even in their showrooms after another year. We can only hope that they will get their act together and outline a product strategy that befits the market expectations.
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Old 1st November 2016, 18:01   #10
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

I think they are just trying to find that next blockbuster. They hit it big in the 90s with the Scorpio. In the 00s with the XUV. And all along, Bolero was silently holding fort in the rural/economy markets. Apart from these 3, M&M hasn't really had any *blockbuster* product. Thar is close but in a niche segment and kinda crude to appeal to a broader segment.

Now there is also news of them acquiring older 2 wheeler marquees. Can only wonder as to the group's future plans for the auto division. Instead of dancing around all over the place, maybe, they could focus more on their core competence and build reliable UVs.
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Old 1st November 2016, 18:11   #11
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

As an existing Xylo owner, I am not sure if I would be shopping Mahindra Products again.

4 months after I purchased my Xylo E8 with mEagle engine, they abruptly offered the entire line up with scorpio's mHawk engines. I was left Their service in Bangalore is nothing write to home about. Just okay. Their A.S.S will try to postpone or find numerous reasons not to change parts under warranty. You need to pressurise them.

Back to your question. Yes Mahindra is always quirky. Agree with you 100%, that their planning is always "quick to market" themed, with quirky designs and neither-here-nor-there style.
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Old 1st November 2016, 21:55   #12
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Had I been Mahindra, I would have trimmed the products on offer. Would have axed the NuvoSport/Quanto, the Verito, KUV 1OO*.
All of us know that there are only 3 M&M products which sell well, in the PV space. The XUV, Scorpio and the Bolero.

However, as an OEM, they cannot, and should not have such a limited portfolio and hence, from a business standpoint, they are doing what is smart. They are lining up products based on cost effective platforms in the segments which are currently on the boom. They know all of them wont sell, however, that is how you keep up the excitement about your brand, especially when it doesn't have a European premium or a Japanese reliability tag to it.

Also, if these products can rake up more than a few thousand units a month collectively, apart from the usual blockbusters, it is not a bad decision.

Should they improve? Without doubt, and on a lot of areas, across products, but that is best left for a different discussion.
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Old 1st November 2016, 22:23   #13
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So, Mahindra is becoming Tata. With the reported quality issues.
Tata Motors have improved their product quality leaps and bounds.

Zest, Bolt, Tiago and the ready to roar Hexa (and in-pipeline products Kite 5 and Nexon) speak volumes of their commitment and execution in delivering an aspirational design and a superior product in the market.
Bhpians univocal views substantiates!
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Old 1st November 2016, 23:41   #14
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Yes I for one regard Tata Motors's efforts at engineering and design (that is, beyond: just 'jugaad engineering' and design, which Mahindra has been and imo still might be guilty of) of a far higher order than Mahindra, nevermind the latter's far greater and consistent sales success.

The latter was imo based entirely on there being no competition in the affordable 'suv' segments, and on the huge network-strength of Mahindra Finance in periurban, smalller towns and (semi)rural areas? Mahindra's sales and return-on-investment performance is dipping now entirely because there now are (with several more coming) competitors in their segments ready to eat their (until-recently, until say the Duster launch) 'free lunch.'

Tata Motors' focus on the Nano was courageous and gallant, and but had proven too expensive/painful a diversion for them: no fully all-new Safari, no b-suv, no all-new Sumo, etc. BUT: they're righting that wrong, now, what with the higher quality, including of design, powertrains and engineering, recent and upcoming offerings.

Mahindra has used a strategy exactly analogous to say SsangYong 15-20 years' ago: 'third world' 'aspirational/macho' vehicles, i.e., inexpensive brashly 'wannabe' 'suv'-s made and sold profitably in unregulated (emissions and safety, for eg) markets.

They were right to, they (unlike Tata Motors) played to their strengths: but now that everyone from Tata and MarutiS to Hyundai to Ford to Jeep itself to Renault-Nissan to even VW are coming after these segments/categories: M&M could find the going very tough(er) henceforth?

Well, at least in terms of R-O-I? They still have huge strengths though: especially scale+spread of distribution, and service, plus of course and of-the-essence 'synergies' with almost in-house Mahindra Finance.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 01:36   #15
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Default Re: Mahindra's poor planning & conceptualisation of new product launches

Personally I feel M&M Design Team needs a major overhaul .Its difficult to explain why they design cars which look half good to downright ugly. Take Hyundai's case for example, from the not so good looking cars, they have started producing some really nice looking cars. M&M has to realize that a car's design has to be appealing to the buyer rather than a radical one which tries too hard to impress.

Unfortunately, the same design philosophy seems have to made its way into its two wheeler division as well.A partnership with a well established design studio would do them a world of good.
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