Mahindra & Mahindra launched the Bolero MaXX pikup to align with the changing times and evolving needs of its customers. In an industry talk session, Harish Lalchandani, Vice President – Marketing (PV & Pikup) and Manoj Gauba, DGM at M&M speak to Ashish Bhatia about the renewed aspirations with the new offering in the pick-up segment.

Q: What sets the new Bolero MaXX pik-up apart from the existing generation of the legacy Bolero pik-up range?

Harish: This is not just a launch of a new product it’s a launch of a new brand called the Bolero MaXX pik-up. The product is touted as the future of pick-ups and this is what we want to bank on to help our customers leapfrog into the future. It’s an amazing product with a great amount of technology built into it. A great amount of comfort and safety are built into it as additions to the legacy promise of our performance, of our toughness, of the ruggedness that’s intact. The reason why it’s a city pickup is that it’s been engineered for city driving conditions. You will notice a shorter bonnet and a shorter overhang. You will see the turn safe head lamps which help light up the blind spots to give the driver added assurance on turns. It has been designed keeping in mind the narrow turnings and restricted parking spaces found in urban setups.

Manoj: This is a completely new cabin with new head lamps and bumpers. The cabin has been designed in such a way that you get maximum safety in case of an accident. On the interiors, the doors are part of a single structure for maximum strength (check4.26). As Harish mentioned, the cargo deck has been designed to offer maximum payload-carrying capacity.

Harish: If I were to answer how it adds up to the evolution of a legacy product, in terms of refreshing the brand, it goes beyond just adding new features to an existing lineup. Consumer needs are changing consistently and today if you take a look at some of our customers and the way that they operate, the working hours have gone up longer. The number of cargo pickups and drops has gone up in correlation. The thought process has been to offer better a Turn Around Time (TAT). If you take a look at most of our e-commerce firms today they give you a window within which the delivery will happen so that has to be met even by our customers. With the iMaxx technology that we’ve introduced in the iMaxx app. operators will benefit from features like vehicle tracking, vehicle monitoring, geo-fencing and route planning depending on traffic conditions, depending on geographic location to be able to plan the ideal route. Over the next few quarters on getting customer feedback, we will keep evolving the app.

Q: Have you also drawn from technology like telematics from the upper end of the spectrum, like your M&HCVs?

A: We have taken in a lot of the features that come with this particular product as a combination of what you would see in our passenger vehicles as well the trucks and buses. The look and feel of the User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX) come in from the passenger vehicle space to give it a premium look. The functionality that we have put in come more from our experience with our commercial vehicles where it has been introduced to give the maximum benefit to the customer across both the UI and the UX.

Q: How do you juggle and balance both the white spaces in the industry as a whole and the white spaces internal to the portfolio?

A: We have always been at the forefront of launching new things and that has helped us stay ahead of the curve and retain our market leadership in this segment for the last 20 years. We were the first to launch the flatbed; we were the first to create a lot of feature specifications for this particular segment. One of the strengths is the close connection that we have with most of these customer segments and the amount of time we spend understanding their lives, needs, wants. The kind of changes that we have to bring about. It’s this combination that just helps us stay ahead of the curve and has kept us as market leaders so far.

Q: Will the MaXX coexist with the other legacy variants in the Bolero range including the recently launched Inter-city pik-up?

A: The MaXX has been specifically designed for intra-city use and that’s why the name City 3000. This will currently coexist with the more significant products that we have in the portfolio which is the 1.7-tonne variant. In the case of the inter-city pik-up, from a load capacity perspective, these are two separate products. Compared to 1.3-tonne in the Bolero MaXX range, the city pik-up offers a 1.5-tonne loading capacity as a differentiator.

Q: Do you see a market for lower payloads because this segment of customers tend to overload?

A: The strategy is to cover the entire gamut. So we start with our SCV products and when you come into the pick-up range, you have this product at 1.3-tonne going up to 1.7-tonne. We have changed the structure and included a long suspension to take care of the payload requirements. The wheel tracks are wider for greater stability during the dynamics, for example.

Q: How do you meet the requirements from the standard base variants to the higher variants and the optional fitments?

A: We have three variants in this particular segment which are the base, mid and top-end. In the base variant, you get all of the bells and whistles in terms of your performance, safety and comfort etc. We are offering D+2 seating in the mid-variant along with some of the features at the top end. This feature set gives you the iMaxx technology, the turn-safe headlamp that enhances safety. For the first time in the segment, you will get the height-adjustable front seat for better drive vision eliminating the need for erstwhile practices like using a cushion underneath. The colours are more vibrant like the gold as well as the silver option. The decals give it that premium perception.

Q: How frugal is the build of the new range and how have your suppliers upped the ante?

A: We work very closely with all of our suppliers and all of our partners in order to bring out a comprehensive package for the customer. More than frugality, this is about ensuring that the customer gets what they want in order to make their life and make their job easier at a brilliant price.

Q: What’s the objective of pricing the variants closely?

A: We want a maximum number of our customers to try and experience the top end of our product and to benefit from everything that we’ve thrown into the product. That’s one of the reasons why we have kept the price in such close proximity to each other. They will also benefit from the down payment of Rs.25,000 in addition to a lot of other benefits and features on offer, and in line with our philosophy of ‘Rise’.

Q: What direction can we expect the Mahindra pik-up range to take?

A: It will progress on fronts like alternate drive trains under MaXX to try and answer your question. We are constantly in a process of evaluating the market and when the need emerges we will bring out products that are suitable to the customer across our ranges.

Q: What are the plans for the M2DI engine on the Bolero and the MSI engine on the CNG variants?

A: I think the performance has stayed more or less the same because it’s a tried and trusted engine. Within this particular segment, certain things are tried and trusted and work. There’s no point in changing something that is working well for us. We lead the segment with horsepower and in terms of torque. It’s a workhorse that has really worked and from an extremely low cost of maintenance and serviceability perspective, it’s a brilliant product. One of the reasons why we’re able to give this 20,000 km service interval is the confidence in the complete product in terms of the engine, fuel-efficiency, dynamics, stability of the vehicle and build quality. For profitability, there are two simple things. Maximise your sales and minimise your cost. So from the maximising sales perspective, we have ensured that you have the widest cabin or the widest cargo deck. From a cost perspective, you have the fuel efficiency, the lowest cost of maintenance and ownership coupled with higher service intervals which is why we have stuck to our 2.5-litre engine.

Q: To sum up, your growth and challenge areas in the pickup segment at large?

A: The growth, areas are tremendous because I think the customer is changing. For the new age customer who’s coming in, I think we’ve offered an extremely comprehensive package which is a combination of technology, safety, comfort, performance, and low TCO at a great price with equally great benefits to go along. In terms of challenges well whenever there are challenges there are also opportunities. Like in the past two decades that we’ve been launching pick-ups, we will keep modifying our products to stay ahead of the curve.

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