On the global automobile arena, India has its hope hinged on two automakers - Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra. Both the companies are of Indian origin, but have grown to be true global players. They are the two automakers in the country that can literally make Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign work.
Indians are not unpatriotic by any standards but many a times their patriotism is limited to political ideologies or at best manifest as empathy for the Kissan (farmer) and Jawan (soldier). Their patriotism doesn’t factor in while making a purchase decision, say for example in the case of an automobile. When it comes to choosing their set of wheels, not many Indians consider Mahindra, Tata or a Bajaj Auto vehicle. Consciously or not, domestic brands tend to get a secondary treatment from automobile buyers.
There is also a feeling in the society that Indian brands do not enjoy as much of a premium as their foreign counterparts do. When it comes to brand patriotism, Indians may have a lesson or two to learn from foreigners. For instance, if you spot a Fiat amid a sea of Volkswagen, Beamers and Mercedes in Germany, you can be sure that an Italian is behind the wheel. Similarly, in the US where Toyotas and Nissans are a common sight, the Fords, Chevys and GMs are driven mostly by patriotic Americans. Toyotas and Hondas there are mostly driven by Indians.
Indians continue to go for foreign brands even in their home country. Toyota, Honda and Suzuki are the most sought after auto brands in India. Any other brand comes only after these three.
This scenario may however change slowly, thanks to a new line of products from Tata and Mahindra. Mahindra’s KUV 100, to be launched by the company soon following the success of its XUV 500 and TUV 200 models, will be India’s smallest sports utility vehicle. The KUV 100, which is only the size of a hatchback car, will accommodate six people and will be available from sub Rs 4 lakh onwards.
Tata Zica is also a strong contender in the automobile market. Mahindra recently released the image of KUV 100, which looked attractive. This is the smallest and cheapest car from the Mahindra stable but at the same time is a stunner. The KUV 100 for sure will pose stiff competition to premium hatchback apart from hatchback crossovers.
The KUV 100 is built on Mahindra’s latest platform. This platform is the first one from Mahindra that is similar to that of a car and this maybe the company’s entry into cars. Mahindra is expected to launch new cars on this platform, which offers the option to bring in four wheel drives later.
KUV looks like the smaller version of the land rover. The unique grill, big bumper, 14 inch alloy wheels and muscular sides make this vehicle different from cars.
The design has focussed on making the most use of the available space and that is what makes the KUV a six-seater that can accommodate three passengers each on the front and back row.
The gear lever is placed on the dashboard like it is in Datsun Go thereby freeing up the space for an extra person in the front row. Both the bench seats are comfortable and offer good thigh and back support.
The KUV will come also with Mahindra’s latest Falcon series 1.2-litre direct injection petrol engine. This three cylinder unit produces 82 BHP while the diesel version, with the same swept volume, belts out 77 BHP. The engines are made in collaboration with Australia’s AVL.
Both the versions will come with five-speed manual gearboxes. The automatic versions will come with transmission technology of Italy’s Magneti Marelli. The KUV is expected to be launched this month.