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Indian summer as Mahindra leaks new models

Different Thar: Mahindra will hold off launching its Jimny-rivalling Thar off-roader (left) for the time being after a federal court case with Jeep regarding its styling similarities to the Wrangler (below).

New auto Pik-Up, turbo-petrol engine and more SUVs on the way from Mahindra

18 Jun 2021

INDIAN car-maker Mahindra is set to launch three new models, including a seven-seat off-roader, in Australia after giving an undertaking to the federal court that it would not import its Jeep Wrangler “look-alike”, the Thar.


Mahindra now plans to increase its presence in our market with new products within the next 18 months that include a refreshed version of the current Pik-Up (called Scorpio in India) ute with an automatic transmission. 


It is also reportedly planning two new SUVs for Australia; the next-generation Scorpio seven-seat large SUV, codenamed Project Z101, and the XUV700 mid-sizer.


“The Z101 is an all-new Scorpio and is built on a totally new platform,” Mahindra & Mahindra Automotive CEO Veejay Nakra said.


Mr Nakra, speaking exclusively to GoAuto, said “the larger SUV is a body-on-frame and the XUV700 is a monocoque, so these are totally different vehicles with each having a brand-new platform and lengths of up to 4.6m”.


The brand is also primed to launch an all-new small SUV which should measure in under the 4m mark, similarly underpinned by a new platform.


“This is a new program so it is an all-new vehicle from frame to the power train to the body to the interiors,” Mr Nakra said.


“We are also looking at other products that give us such a huge opportunity with the new platforms. 


“So in the case of the Thar, we can create multiple versions, including a five-door model, and clearly we can make one for the international market with a different front look.


“It's a little early for me to commit on when and how long it will take to bring the different Thar versions to the market but they are works in progress.”


Mr Nakra said his company is planning to introduce the Thar to Australia, but demand for the vehicle in India and production problems caused by the pandemic means he is unable to give a launch date. 


“We have made a voluntary undertaking that currently we will not launch the Thar in Australia,” he said, meaning Mahindra must also alert FCA about its Australian plans for the pint-sized off-roader.


Mr Nakra said the company was examining the electrification of its range for launch over the next three to six years.


These would start with the XUV700 as a hybrid and lead to the manufacturing of its own dedicated electric vehicle.


“There is significant investment going forward into creating EVs as well as electrification of the current portfolio,” he said.


“We are exploring all opportunities and options including collaboration. I think the key is to create the right technology and bring it to market at the right time. 


“So, we are absolutely open right now to all forms of collaboration at component level, the platform level and battery level to bring the right electric products to the market.”


Mr Nakra added the Indian government is wanting to introduce low-emission vehicles as soon as possible.


“We currently are at what we call stage six, which is the equivalent of Euro6 on the emission level,” he said.


“In another two years we move to 6.2. And the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) kicks in in 2022. So yes, India is moving ahead very, very aggressively after the Paris Agreement on getting emissions right. 


“And clearly, if one has to manage the CAFE requirement that the Indian government has spelt out, we need to have EVs in the portfolio.”


Mahindra still makes diesel engines for its vehicles, but Mr Nakra said there was more emphasis on cleaner petrol engines.


“We make a 1.5-litre and 2.2-litre diesel, and a 1.2-litre, 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre gasoline (petrol) engine range,” he said.


“We are one of the pioneers in India to make a turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine.


“The 1.2 is in the XUV300 and the Thar has the 2.0-litre, but both vehicles have the option of diesel engines.


“So we have state-of-the-art powertrain technology, both gasoline and diesel.”


Mr Nakra said that Mahindra has made a move from diesel to petrol over the past decade and in its smaller models, now “more than 50 per cent of engine production is for gasoline in terms of demand and sales”.


“But if I look at the larger SUVs, they continue to be largely diesel. In this market, consumers prefer diesel because they get strong torque for better performance and get good mileage,” he said.


“The only disadvantage, I guess, was that diesels have higher emissions so by using technology including catalysts, it is certainly possible to reduce emissions.”

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