When Anand Mahindra launched the much-awaited XUV 500 Wednesday evening, the vice chairman & managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra invited those present to guess the price of the feature-packed sports utility vehicle. The estimates that flew around amidst the glitz were mostly on the higher side of Rs 13 lakh.
Few expected the jaw-dropping price range that was announced 12 hours later: Rs 10.8 lakh (ex-Delhi) for the base version, and Rs 12.88 lakh for the fully-loaded top-end XUV 500 with all-wheel drive.
The XUV 500 may well make the going extremely tough for Tata Motors’ crossover Tata Aria, which is priced higher but lags behind in features, and may impact top-end Scorpio and even premium off-roaders such as Ford Endeavour.
It looks an ideal vehicle for India’s largest utility vehicle maker’s global ambitions. “The XUV 500 will get us the high seat in global auto world. It is a strong and bold step towards becoming a globally recognized SUV brand,” Anand Mahindra said during the press conference in Pune.
The company will launch the vehicle in South Africa in a couple of days. It plans to make inroads into Australia and Latin America in the next six months. M&M will also drive the XUV 500 into Western Europe, Russia and China where it has no presence. M&M aims to export XUV 500 to over 30 countries in the next couple of years. It also plans assembly of the vehicle at its subsidiary Ssangyong's plants in South Korea and Brazil.
M&M will begin bookings for the XUV 500 in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune on Saturday. It will be rolled out across the country in 6-9 months.
The XUV 500 helps M&M enter the premium SUV market. It confirms to Europe crash regulations and is equipped with a host of safety features like ABS, EBD, ESP and six airbags.It is loaded with more features than even premium sports utility vehicles like Chevrolet Captiva, Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner.
Yet it was developed with an investment of 650 crore, which is 10 percent lower than development cost in the past, said people involved with the project.
Despite the aggressive price tag, Anand Mahindra said it has not compromised on margins. “For M&M the bottomline always comes first and our focus will remain the same,” he said.
Industry experts say that its monocoque frame construction makes the vehicle lighter and cheaper to produce than Tata Aria, which is built ladder-on-frame construction.