Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. - Driving India and the World
AI caught up, once again, with Pawan Goenka, President, Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
A microcosm of India
Established in 1945, the history of the Mahindra Group closely mirrors the history of independent India. In fact, one could even say Mahindra is like a microcosm of the country of its birth. Originally founded as Mahindra & Mohammad, it came to be known as Mahindra & Mahindra after partition when Ghulam Mohammad, one of the partners became Pakistan’s first Finance Minister.
The company began business as a franchise for assembling jeeps from Willys, USA, and soon moved to manufacturing utility vehicles and agricultural tractors, emerging as one of India’s leading auto brands. Today, the Mahindra Group employs over 65,000 people and is a leading manufacturer of multi-utility vehicles with significant presence in key sectors like automotive, farm equipment, financial services, trade and logistics, automotive components, after-market, IT and infrastructure.
Mahindra is one of India’s most respected business groups led by a professional management team with vast experience in various sectors of the Indian economy. In fact, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. was recently declared one of the world’s most reputed companies by the US-based Reputation Institute in its annual ‘Global 200’: The World’s Best Corporate Reputations’ list.. M&M is one of only ten Indian companies on the list which is also featured in leading business publications around the world, including the prestigious Forbes magazine.
One of India’s leading auto brands
Today, M&M is the leader in the Utility Vehicle segment in India and also manufactures passenger cars, three-wheelers and pick ups. Its Utility Vehicle, the Bolero, is India’s leading UV brand and its SUV, the Scorpio (known as Mahindra Goa in Europe) is acknowledged globally for its blend of rugged utility and durability.
The company has also entered into partnerships with international companies like Renault SA, France for manufacture of the Logan passenger car and International Truck and Engine Corporation, USA. Mahindra’s most recent acquisitions include Metalcastello S.p.A., a leading Italian independent gear manufacturer, and Grafica Ricerca Design S.r.l. (GRD), an Italian auto designing, feasibility and styling company based out of Turin, Italy.
Mahindra has several state-of-the-art facilities in India and overseas. The company’s world-class plant at Nashik, near Mumbai, produces the Scorpio SUV, Bolero utility vehicle and Logan sedan and boasts of fully equipped manufacturing facilities in the Press Shop, Body Shop, CED Line, Paint Shop and Assembly. The Plant has won several awards and accolades since inception.
Pioneers in Research & Development
R&D is a major focus area for the Automotive Sector which has developed several platforms in-house. One such Platform was India’s first indigeneously developed SUV, the Scorpio in 2002 . Post the design of the Scorpio , the CRDe(Common Rail Deisel Engine)was developed. The most recent innovation from the Mahindra stable was the new Scorpio V-series sporting the powerful mHawk engine .
Mahindra has also undertaken pioneering work in the area of alternate fuels. The company’s focus is on developing sustainable mobility solutions which are not only viable but will also mitigate the ill effects of global warming. In early 2007, M&M achieved a landmark breakthrough in Indian alternate fuel technology with the launch of Asia’s first 100% bio-diesel tractor followed by a bio-diesel Scorpio. Most recently, M&M showcased the Scorpio Hybrid Diesel SUV at the SAE Congress 2008 in Detroit, illustrating its commitment to the development of cutting-edge technologies for a greener world.
The company has also grown in stature as an international automotive major over the past few decades. M&M has a strong presence in several countries across the world including Italy, Spain, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Chile and South Asia. As part of its growing global footprint, Mahindra is poised for entry in the USA market, in the near future.
In early 2008, Mahindra commenced its overseas assembly operations with the launch of the Mahindra Scorpio in Egypt, in partnership with the Bavarian Auto Group. This was soon followed by assembly facilities in Brazil with Bramont Ltda at Manaus.
Dr. Goenka – Q&A
1. What are Mahindra’s strengths in the automotive arena?
Our niche positioning as a leading player in the Utility Vehicle segment is definitely one of our strengths as it has ensured we have an over 50% market share in India in this segment. We have also drawn on our considerable strengths in R&D and design to emerge as an auto major with a presence in almost every segment including Utility Vehicle, Light Trucks, passenger cars and three wheelers. In addition, our ability to anticipate future trends and innovate, keeping customer needs and desires at the forefront has contributed in large measure to our success.
As one of the country’s oldest and most established auto brands, we have been witness to the evolution of the auto industry in India, giving us a unique perspective and in-depth knowledge of the market.
2. Which new products is Mahindra planning to launch in future?
We are planning to enter the MPV segment this year with the launch of the Ingenio which will be based on an entirely new platform.
In 2009-2010, we plan to launch a global SUV based on a new platform. In addition, we will launch a range of light trucks with cargo and passenger applications. A medium and heavy truck and bus platform through our JV with ITEC is also on the anvil.
3. What potential do you see for Indian auto manufacturers in international markets?
There is immense potential for Indian auto manufacturers as they increasingly occupy the spotlight on the global automotive stage. India has the R&D strengths, talent and capability to emerge as a leading player in the international auto industry. Today, ‘Made in India’ denotes quality products at competitive prices. Frugal engineering is one of India’s key strengths.
To use our own example, M&M is today present in almost every continent and our vehicles are being used by people across the globe who recognize the Mahindra brand as a symbol of trust, reliability and durability.
4. Please tell us about M&M’s vision as a global auto major.
Globalization is an integral part of the Mahindra Group’s vision and an imperative for every sector. The automotive business is no exception and over the past few years we have rapidly expanded our global footprint to almost every continent. Today, Mahindra vehicles can be found in Europe, South America, Australia, Africa and South Asia. In 2008, we achieved a new milestone with the launch of our first overseas CKD operations in Egypt. This was soon followed by assembly facilities in Brazil.
As part of our vision to become a truly global player, we are also consolidating our strengths in R&D and design. We recently acquired Grafica Ricerca Design S.r.l. (GRD), an Italian auto designing, feasibility and styling company based out of Turin, Italy. With this acquisition, we intend to develop a global design centre for the Group and cater to global Auto OEMs.
5. What kind of strategies does M&M employ to help it achieve its global vision?
Mahindra has a clear plan to create a global footprint. We chose to be present in focus markets, based on a rigorous market entry methodology, where our products have a strong value proposition. We carry out real world usage trials prior to launch so that products can be adapted for local usage conditions.
We also deploy market specific business models. We have joint venture subsidiary companies in South Africa and Europe for import and distribution. In Egypt and Brazil we have set up a local assembly facility with local partners.
We have a strong track record in every market that we have entered and lay great emphasis on customer care. All our partners share our philosophy of “Here to Stay”.
Learnings and feedback from global markets are being incorporated in the design of our next generation products.