Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is believed to be working on a 0.5 tonne four-wheeler, which is expected to create a new segment in the goods carrier space. Top sources said that prototypes have already been developed and testing is underway.
However, Dr. Pawan Goenka, president, Automotive Sector, M&M, refused to comment on the subject. “There is nothing I can talk about at this point. At a given time, there would be many prototypes being developed,” he said.
The move is interesting because it follows the Nano paradigm of size and, possibly, price to an extent. In fact, Tata Motors officials had also hinted recently that the company would look at the Nano model for commercial vehicles. Sources say that “Project Penguin”, which involves manufacture of a small four-wheeler, is part of this initiative.
The Ace redefined the mini commercial vehicle segment and the fact that the likes of Tata Motors, M&M (and possibly Piaggio Vehicles) are going down the pyramid is a clear reflection of good business opportunities here.
Increasingly, with better connectivity and proliferation of short-distance operations like carrying grains, poultry and cement, among others, smaller goods carriers are being seen as practical alternatives. Bajaj Auto is also tipped to launch a pickup this fiscal on similar lines.
Currently, M&M’s 0.5-tonne offerings are three-wheelers comprising the Champion and Alfa models. A 0.8-tonne four-wheeler that will compete with Tata Ace and Piaggio Truk is scheduled to be launched by the end of the year.
M&M’s three-wheeler business has been doing well with 2008-09 sales totalling nearly 45,000 units, of which 10 per cent came from March alone.
Source: Economic Times