Established in 1945, the Mahindra Group is like a microcosm of the country of its birth. Originally founded as Mahindra & Mohammad, it came to be known as Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) after partition, when Ghulam Mohammad, one of the partners became Pakistan’s first Finance Minister.
The company soon moved from being a franchise for assembling Willys Jeeps to manufacturing utility vehicles and agricultural tractors. M&M now employs over 65,000 people and is a leading manufacturer of multi-utility vehicles with significant presence in automotive, farm equipment, financial services, trade and logistics, automotive components, after-market, IT and infrastructure. Plans to enter the US market received a boost with M&M being identified as one of the world’s most top companies by the US-based Reputation Institute in its annual ‘Global 200’: The World’s Best Corporate Reputations’ list.
M&M developed platforms include the first all-Indian SUV, the Scorpio. Recent innovations include the Scorpio V-series powered by the mHawk engine. In 2007, Mahindra also launched Asia’s first 100% bio-diesel tractor, followed by a bio-diesel Scorpio.
Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Dr Pawan Goenka, COO (Automotive Sector), M&M, and asked him to identify the company’s main automotive strengths:
Goenka: We have an over 50% market share in India in the utility vehicle 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.
AI: Which new products is Mahindra planning to launch?
Goenka: We plan to enter the MPV segment this year with the Ingenio – based on an entirely new platform. In 2009-2010, we plan to launch a global SUV based on a new platform. We will also 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.
AI: What international potential do you see for Indian auto manufacturers?
Goenka: There is immense potential for Indian auto manufacturers. 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. To use our own example, M&M is today present in almost every continent.
AI: What is M&M’s vision as a global auto major.
Goenka: Globalization is an integral part of the Mahindra Group’s vision. Over the past few years we have rapidly expanded our global footprint to almost every continent. 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.
We are also consolidating our strengths in R&D and design. We recently acquired Grafica Ricerca Design, 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.
AI: What is M&M doing to achieve its global vision?
Goenka: 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”. Lessons and feedback from global markets are being incorporated in the design of our next generation products.