Mahindra Scorpio at a US Dealer
Mahindra has come a long way from being one of the three car manufacturers till the 80’s to becoming an international brand in recent times. Gone are the days of just making tractors and Jeep’s which were basically the same shape and fit from the 50’s. Their early design in 1990’s were completely unfocussed and they came out with pretty ordinary machines in their “bread and butter” category. However in the early part of this decade, they launched the Scorpio which is a pretty cool SUV in the Indian perspective.
If you do not want the ruggedness and basic features of the Tata SUMO but don’t want to spend a lot of moolah on the Tata Safari, then the Scorpio fit in perfectly. In its luxury version it is quite spiffy for a completely indigenous car and with competition will surely add more and more features at the luxury end.
And therefore it was with a pleasant surprise that I came across this article in the BusinessWeek
But at a time of soaring gas prices, Mahindra’s vehicles are going to have one big thing in their favor: superior fuel economy. Despite diesel’s historic brown image, it is emerging as a green technology. New low-sulfur fuel, federally mandated in 2006, can produce mileage figures that nearly equal those of more fashionable hybrids. Mahindra estimates that its compact SUV, the Scorpio, and pickups, one of which will be called the Appalachian, will get about 30 miles per gallon in the city and as much as 37 on the highway. That compares with 30 city/34 highway for the $27,000 Ford Escape SUV hybrid and 21 city/27 highway for the gas-powered $23,000 Toyota RAV4.
Shirrin’s family owns the Scorpio. They bought it brand new in early 2006, and I had the good fortune of driving it around quite a bit.
I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the engine and the the fit and finish both interior and exterior were pretty nice. They still did not match the trimmings of a Maruti Suzuki but were darned close.
I look forward to the launch of the Scorpio in the US in early 2009. If they keep the pricing as competitive and low end as they can, they have a great product to sell. Diesel engines are the more prudent answer to the whole energy crisis. Hybrids in the US are more of an eyewash. Ask the Germans. Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are all set to launch a flurry of diesel sedans, hatchbacks and SUV’s in the next year. Diesel fuel burns cleaner and does not give out ozone depleting gases as regular petroleum does.
- However if I had to advice the CEO of Mahindra, it would be this.
- Keep the price of the car pegged no higher than 18,000 USD. That would be Rs 7.2 lacs
- Bump up the horsepower on the engine. At 109 hp I think it is underpowered for US roads. It would be a task to merge and overtake on US highways. (For comparision my motorcycle thumps out 145 hp.)
- Add a few more gizmos, like Ipod dock, bluetooth, a kickass stereo.
- Add snazzy colors and market it to a younger crowd. Maybe even to people buying their first car.
- Put in the most efficient engine you can. The gas mileage will win the day for you
And last but not the least, if you are looking for test users in the US, sign me up.