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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:25   #1
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Default Your expectations from Tata / Mahindra products that cost over a Million Rupees

We had quite the interesting discussion (Tata Vista versus Mahindra Xylo) on Tata vs Mahindra in 2009. This time, I'm initiating one where they aren't pitted against each other. Rather, we will talk about core areas where both of them need to focus on.

Very soon, Tata & Mahindra will both offer cars that cost well over a million rupees. The Tata Aria (Link to driving impressions) and Mahindra W201 (Link to spy pics) will be launched in the relatively "premium" segment.....an area where neither of them has experience or (open to debate) expertise.

Cross-shopping across different body styles isn't uncommon in India. Thus, the Indian duo will compete in a price segment that is filled with established products from truly International brands (Toyota, Honda, Skoda, VW etc.). Its noteworthy to mention that neither Maruti nor Hyundai (the two largest car manufacturers in India) have been able to sell a 10+ lakh rupee car till date in India. Can the desi duo do it?

I've interacted with senior professionals and have clearly communicated that they need to deliver on:
  • Product Finesse & Quality : Interior quality has always been a sore spot with the homegrown brands. Poor fit & finish, lousy plastic / part quality and cheap interiors will simply NOT be accepted in the 10+ lakh segment. They could get away with the Manza & Xylo; however, the 10+ lakh rupee customer will demand international grade quality. This includes refinement (noise, vibration, harshness levels) too.
  • Dynamics & Road behaviour : It is safe to say that the Innova is the current benchmark amongst UVs. After all, the Toyota is closest to a regular sedan in terms of on-road behaviour. Tata & Mahindra engineers, on the other hand, seem to be addicted to body roll, sloppy braking and unpredictable highway behaviour.
  • A+ engines : No worries on this front. Either has a strong range of diesel engines as is evident from the 2.2 common-rails.
  • Space & Packaging : The Scorpio is a classic example of the "big from outside, small on inside" kind of car. This point is more relevant to Mahindra than Tata (who have a track record of spacious cars).
  • Overall dealership & service experience : Both score poorly on this front as well. The sales & service experience is way off industry benchmarks. Over-worked dealership personnel, service bays running over-capacity, an utter disregard for customer satisfaction and customers running from pillar-to-post to get their work done are standard features of the Mahindra / Tata ownership experience.
  • Suspect reliability & frequent niggles :Even a Honda City or Hyundai Verna from the C segment can offer 150,000 kms of trouble-free ownership. The Aria & W201 will be priced much higher, but can they provide hassle-free service? No electrical glitches, frequent mechanical failures or shoddy parts & worksmanship?
  • Top Level of equipment :I've made it categorically clear to them that premium customers demand a top equipment list. That includes multiple airbags and ABS systems, rear disc brakes, leather interiors, headlamp washers, steering mounted audio controls, bluetooth + USB + AUX entertainment systems, electric driver seat, fully electric mirrors and so on. In fact, I suggested that they go a step further and offer a sun-roof, automatic transmission options, keyless entry / go and more.
  • VFM Pricing : We take it for granted that Tata & Mahindra cars have to be value-for-money. Else, we'll drop them like a hot potato (Logan anyone?). Tata & Mahindra have to offer a value proposition where, in the eyes of the customer, the actual product seems to be worth far more than the asking price. Everyone knows that buying expensive cars is as much about the brand & image as it is about the product itself (else the entry-level Mercs & BMWs would never sell). The desi duo don't have the brand value, they better provide a stellar value proposition.
Would you spend well over 10 lakh rupees on a Tata or Mahindra? If so, what would you expect of the product?

Last edited by GTO : 3rd September 2010 at 16:28.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:45   #2
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I think GTO has covered all the important points on the vehicle.

I would add:
5-year unlimited mileage/100,000 km warranty
Anti-corrosion warranty.

Having some that, if all the above are taken care of some people will still hate it and will be satisfied only if it has this:
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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:54   #3
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Well Rush,

If I have to respond to this, I would say, I would still think 10 times before buying a mahindra or a TATA above 10L. The reasons being:
  • Poor fit and finish of the interiors. Classic cases being of Grande and Xylo. I can digest the way they look, but once inside, I cannot adjust to the fact that their interior looks cheap even for a sub 10 lakh rupee vehicle. I do not like the dashboards of Xylo or Grande. Rio has a better dashboard!
  • Dealer attitude. I had logged an enquiry for a Xylo and Grande on carwale.com. I am getting regular calls from carwale, but not from dealers to whom my details are forwarded.
  • "Most stolen cars" - TATA and Mahindra cars are most likely to stolen from road (Bolero, Scoprio, Sumo and Safari). I would like to have a sound sleep after paying more than 10L.
  • "Attitude change" People have to develop an +ive attitude to look cars from TATA and Mahindra. They still think that these two players are old school; where as both are the major players of the future in world markets.

Last edited by amtak : 3rd September 2010 at 15:55.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:57   #4
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Would you spend well over 10 lakh rupees on a Tata or Mahindra? If so, what would you expect of the product?
No, i would not spend over 10 lakhs on a Tata/MM vehicle!

one simple reason is their quality is not worth the multinational OEMs are giving to indian consumers along with the A.S.S.

Tata and MM are still considered as rural market products in india and not taken seriously by upmarket customer.

the image of Tata/MM is that of a taxi, commercial and agricultural equipments manufacturers and not of passenger cars. i know some well know brands like MB, BMW, Volvo, Lamborghini etc started out as commercial vehicle manufactures, but look how much they have progresses when it comes to passenger car manufacturer.

TATA has dragged along Safari for a very long time and not making any big improvments on it!

Sumo Grande has not set the sales charts on fire when compared to Sumo original.

Tata cars exported to Rover UK didnt do well, a let down on quality.

Tata's mindset of truck manufacturer still can be seen on todays cars!

MM on the similar trend never shed its rural and conservative approach of making the vehicles. it never took into the mass appeal and demand by the indian consumer and didnt bring along vehicles as the change of the times.

MM bolero is the 'highest' selling SUV in india, but in truth is it really a vehicle worth buying for? its targetted at rural folk and not as a quality product. what improvments have we seen in it? its really a WW2 product!

on the other hand, MM offers better products for exports and inferior products to indian customers.

well im sure the buying of LR/Jaguar by TATA and SSangyong by MM would introduce world class technology and products into india for indian customers.

Last edited by Parm : 3rd September 2010 at 16:00.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:59   #5
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There are 3 major improvements I would like to see from Tata/Mahindra:

1. They need to produce absolutely niggle free vehicles. The customer should not have to visit the workshop for anything other than routine service. No oil leaks, no malfunctioning electricals - in short, make it as niggle free as a Maruti 800, which costs 1/4th of a million.

2. They need to have dedicated A.S.S. for private vehicles and separate ones for taxis. A customer, especially one who is spending a million bucks, doesn't deserve to be treated at par with a cab driver.

3. They need to have a working feedback mechanism like Maruti/Hyundai. If a customer is not satisfied with the service, he should be able to escalate the matter to the company and get the issues resolved ASAP.

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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:09   #6
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When I was in the market a few months ago, I never had SUVs from this duo on my shopping list. Reason - lack of confidence.

If there's something I can't buy with confidence, I would never buy it - period!

I almost blindfoldedly bought a pre-owned vehicle because of the quality and confidence this particular Japanese brand has generated over a period of time (despite the fact that it is married to HM )
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:09   #7
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I think you have wrapped the points up in a very succinct and yet to-the-point manner.

If I think of buying a 10+ Lakh car (there is no toll as yet on thinking!) what will I want? Hmmm... Let me try to jot down my wishlist and see where we go.

* Compelling Reason. I want a brand image, no doubt. Everyone who spends that kind of money will want that. A big Honda or a Toyota carries a lot more snob value than a humble Tata or a Mahindra. I may still buy these but then for every 10 Lakh spent on a Tata (or Mahindra) the car needs to be equivalent to a 15-18 Lakh rupee equivalent from a better known stable. In other words the C+ segment cost probably should fetch me a D segmenter or better. This could be a compelling reason for me. Much, much more car per car.

* Looks. It can not be a Plain Jane after spending that kind of money. So it needs to be a looker as well. Something that makes people to turn around and say "Wow"! While a plain looking Toyota still sells on the strength of its many other virtues. A Tata or Mahindra at a million rupee cost just needs to be different.

* Recurring Costs. We are a value conscious country. Only here do we see the top seth who otherwise wants to buy an SLK or better also enquires on his diesel options. So the car should not have very high maintenance cost. A Merc can afford to sale a car for which even a broken key fob costs 8000 bucks to procure back but not a Tata or Mahindra. Chances are that those who will shell out a million bucks for a Tata will probably not want to spend even a rupee more on maintenance for the next couple of years. So good FE, low spare-parts costs etc are a must.

* Strong Warranty. The above point brings up this one on the cue. I would love to have a strong warranty support. The kind Hyundai doles out in US. At least a '2,50,000 Kms no maintenance cost other than consumables' kind of commitment will help me lean towards one of these home grown majors.

* Top Notch Build. Of course I do not want a car that others who drive a million dollar car can call a Jalopy. While a good part of it is in the mindset of people I definitely do not want to have a real proof of it in the car. So no undue panel gaps, cheap jugaad type plastic bits on the body shell (check Indica V2, post 2005, wheel arches made of plastic or the plastics around the joins of the rear door and the body in a Safari), bad quality of plastics, cheap fabric etc. And of course no jhin-jhin, tin-tin type of gaana-bajaana, at least for the first 60k Kms, when the vehicle is on the move.

* Exclusivity. The premium cars need a premium bay. If the Tatas or the Mahindras feel that it is economically unviable to setup separate dealerships and SS for these vehicles (due to the expected lower volumes than the mass segmenters) they should at least ensure that they have a totally separate Service Section with bays, waiting lounges etc. for the premium cars and their owners. The entry/exit should also be different. Remember, a million rupee gaddi owner would not like to jostle with the 25 Indicabs and another 70 odd Indicas, Indigos and other vehicles first thing in the morning to enter the SS and enrol his car for the service. The exclusivity needs to be a foregone conclusion.

* Of course everything else that you mentioned will have to hold true.

Last edited by Zappo : 3rd September 2010 at 16:14.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:19   #8
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GTO, this is nice topic to discuss, as am looking for an upgrade from my Bolero to next level, I would expect a lot from these vehicles (Aria and W201).

My requirements:

ABS and Airbags, Decent ride comfort for a family of 7, Fun to drive, easy on pocket and when i sit inside the car, i would like to feel the sense of satisfaction for every penny i have paid to acquire my ride.

I recently did TD Scropio, Safari and Innova as my next upgrade, though Scorpio satisfies the driver within me, I was apprehensive on buying any of these 3 vehicles for the following reasons:


Dream to drive, oozes masculinity ease of maintenace (cost), niggle free.


was not confident about handling at speeds (Above 140), Interiors look cheap for 10L+ vehicle.


Looks, Very good ride for 5


After reading the experinces here on t-bhp, am worried about the niggles and other quality issues. Am paying 10L for this vehicle and cannot offord to drive or take my family with the fear of not knowing when and where this will break down. Handling wise i think Scorpio was better. Quality of plastics is no better than Scorpio



Very Reliable, comfortable for 7, feels upmarketish, build quality is good, peace of mind.


Boring to drive, very expensive for Vx which just offers Airbags, ABS and alloys over the other models. Felt Vx is not value for money for what it offers.

Following are the features I would want in my next upgrade:

1. Must have ABS and Airbags actross all varient (Fatherly thinking) so that it will be easy for us to choose what other features (Traction Control, Hill ascent/descend assit etc) we would need. Must Seat all 7 of them comfortable on any seat.

2. Fun and Peppy to drive.

3. Good road behaviour, should be a very good handler between 120-14 speeds (Indian highways are getting better day by day).

4. Quality of plastics should give a luxurious feel and Very good build quality and SUV like ground clearence (unlike Innova)

5. I dont expect A.S.S to greet me with smile, serve me coffee and keep smiling at me whenever i look at them, but I surely want them to understand the problems and fix them to the T. Also offer 24*7 on-road assistance anywhere in India.

6. Decent Mileage and low on maintenance (like 15k Kms service intervals for Linea). Must be niggle free.

Disclaimer: All the views expressed above about the other vehicles are my personal views, no offence meant to any of the above vehicle owners.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 16:20   #9
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As mentioned by chncar - 5 years 200,000 kms would be good and 4 years 150,000 kms the min that I would accept.

GTO has covered all the issues. Somehow, TATA seems to go a bit overboard in pricing the high featured variants of it's premium vechicles, like in the case of Safari the VX 4X4 is a good 4 L more than the LX 4X2 OTR. this cases faster price errosion during resale. For example a Safari advertised all over as costing as less as 7.75L does not get the brand value a buyer who paid as much as 13L seeks, a person who has not bought the vechile does not understand that the price advertised is very far from the the top model, and even the most bought variants, it just gets people interested in enquiring about the product but does not get buyers necessarily.

The Aria/ W201 top and base models need to be in a small price band within 20 % of each other, going beyound 25% definately is not a good idea.

Having a variant that is too simply featured will not help them.

Keeping ABS as standard across all variants is required.

There should be a an option of Airbags in all but the base variant, and airbags should not be mixed up with features.

Have seperate service priority counter for vechiles costing 10L plus like in Airlines privilage / Gold /first class
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Old 3rd September 2010, 17:11   #10
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Very interesting topic of debate there, GTO.

At the million+ INR mark, there are very limited numbers of buyers who would have expectations related to dynamics / road behaviour / engine / dealer and service experience / reliability & niggles unlike you, me and knowledgeable members on this forum. Their prime reasons for shelling out that kind of money, IMO, would be (in descending order)

1. Brand equity: Toyota takes the crown by a large margin, with Honda and Ford bringing up the tail. The Hyundai stable of Sonata / Tucson / Terracan or Maruti's GV were/are cars which were great in terms of dynamics / road behaviour / engine / dealer and service experience / reliability & minimal niggles - but the Hyundai/Maruti logo was/is the point where sales tripped up. Can Tata & Mahindra position themselves in the league of Toyota & Honda?

2. Space, packaging, comfort and in-cabin equipment: Leg space takes precedence over airbags; how fast the aircon chills back seat passengers takes precedence over ABS. A Blaupunkt top-end unit and genuine wood finish facia would get more people to loosen their purse strings than whether the engine is a 2.2 or a 3.5V6. Skoda's Superb V6 never sold more than one can count on the fingers of one hand, despite it being a superlative engine which completely changes the character of the car. Rear seat comfort takes precedence over driving pleasure. I'm the boss, how can I go somewhere without a chauffeur driving my car? Don't expect me to drive! The rear seat on a Tata has till now been way better than the rear seat of a Mahindra.

3. Value for money: Maruti hit the nail on the head with their "kitna deti hai" campaign. That'a how we are. 1 million or two, it doesn't matter what we pay to buy a car. Deejul hai na? Toh mileage achchhi hi hogi. The GV and CR-V had few takers for just this reason. A warranty cover of 5 years/150,000 km would add to the VFM, and a 3 year/60,000 km free service package would always help.

4. Product finesse and quality: This is about the external looks, the leather seats, the bling and chrome, the snazzy alloys. We don't understand shut lines, but a nice and glossy paint, chrome strips, wood capping and leather please us no end.

Keeping in mind the above, plus so long as the new products don't catch fire and return 12+km/l, Tata and Mahindra just might have a success story going.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 3rd September 2010 at 17:21.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:00   #11
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There is only one way forward for any newcomer to make a mark in a particular segment - Offer everything really more than what the competition has to offer.

If an Innova runs for 3l+ km without any niggles, offer a car that runs 5L+ km without niggles

If a Laura looks as good as new even after 10years, offer a car that looks new even after 15years

If a Cruze looks like a stunner, offer a car that makes Cruze look plain jane.


It might sound difficult and impractical, but this is what the Hondas and the Skodas did when they entered India.

The way forward is very clear - set a new benchmark in each and every department - right from Sheet Metal Processing to After Sales Service.

Last edited by CliffHanger : 3rd September 2010 at 18:02.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:13   #12
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They just need to benchmark against a segment leader (or simply copy it as much as you can) and then offer the warranty (like Hyundai did in the U.S). Prove it that you can make long lasting reliable cars.
They dont have to look great. FE is number one and space is number two. Then comes the features.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:22   #13
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My wishlist is as follows:

1. Better reliability, especially with the electricals/electronics.
2. Good ride quality (especially with Mahindra) & better braking (both).
3. Better plastics & appointments of the interiors.
4. Front facing 3rd row seating (Safari).
5. Better steering grip & feedback in Safari.
6. Bigger Tail Lights in Safari.
7. Better Tail Lights in Scorpio.

Not much more than above as I have driven both (Scorpio recently), & found them equally good.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:22   #14
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Quality. It seems that despite the sheer amount of money they've thrown at it, its still not there. Quality is an attitude, and should be designed into the system. Not something that's implemented as an afterthought. Unless they lose the 'chalta hai' attitude, I doubt if they are going anywhere.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 18:36   #15
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I own a vehicle from either stable but if I were in the market to buy a million rupee plus vehicle, I will blind folded pick a Toyota.

In order for me to choose a Tata/Mahindra over Toyota, the Indian majors ought to ensure very high scores for the three R's:

1) Reliability
2) Refinement
3) Road worthiness or (dynamic ability)

If the above criteria is met, I care little about brand value or brand equity.
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