Mumbai: Utility vehicles major M&M on Monday replaced its struggling compact SUV Quanto with the NuvoSport that comes with a 1.5-litre diesel engine, same as the former, but at premium pricing and new positioning.
The home-grown auto firm has been struggling with Quanto, its first under-4-meter model, since its September 2012 launch.
The new compact UV sports a 1.5-litre diesel engine developed on the third generation mHawq100 platform, same as its successful SUV Scorpio is built on, and commands a price of Rs 7.35 lakh for the base model (ex-showroom Thane) which goes up to Rs 9.76 lakh for the top-end AMT version.
"The NuvoSport will replace the Quanto," Pravin Shah, President and Chief Executive, M&M, told reporters here.
Shah, while launching the NuvoSport that comes in three variants, was repeatedly asked about the fate of Quanto.
When asked about the failure of Quanto, Shah said the product was launched in flat 18 months as a compromise between time to reach the market and a world-class vehicle.
"So, as far the product was concerned let me admit that it was a compromise between reaching the market on time and a great product.
"But one should appreciate that we created an entirely new category of sub-4-metre UV in the domestic market, which since then has become the most competitive and the fastest growing segment, commanding 44 per cent market share within the compact UV segment in FY16, which was just about 12 per cent in FY12," Shah said.
Whether the company expects some cannibalisation of its another successful model, the TUV300, which also comes with a 1.5-litre diesel engine but at considerably lower price points, Vivek Nair, marketing head, said "both the vehicles are positioned differently. But if there is some cannibalisation, that is okay with us. Our objective is to offer a wide variety of choices to customers."
"The NuvoSport is feature-rich, sporty SUV with bold styling built on the same new generation platform as the Scorpio. The new vehicle is available at dealerships from today," Nair added.
Shah said the company has spent Rs 115 crore in developing the NuvoSport which took shape at its Chennai R&D and Design Centre over a period of two year.
Asked about the market response since booking was opened a fortnight ago, both Shah and Nair declined a direct answer or provide figures.
"We have an installed capacity of 1,500 units a month for the new model at our Nashik plant and we are confident of selling those many units," was all Shah proffered.
But many analysts averred the fact that M&M has put up only 1,500 units capacity a month and positioned a sporty product at a higher price range, offering a mileage of just 17.45 kmph (against close to 24 km that Maruti Brezza offers at a much lower price point), shows the company's confidence in the new model.
The top models of all the three NuvoSport variants comes with two airbags and automatic transmission. All the variants are flexible seven-seater vehicles. One key feature is the 6.2 inch touchscreen infotainment system developed on the Rexton platform and a driver info system that will indicate the time/distance to refuel.
Whether there will be a petrol variant, Shah answered in the negative. To another query on export possibility, he said to begin with, the Nuovsport will be shipped to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Though the company claims that the NuvoSport is built on an entirely new platform and has more dissimilarities with the Qunato, expect for the mHawq engine, which is lighter than the Quanto engine, and the AMT version, there is hardly any difference in the new car. In fact, the middle and rear seatings are marginally smaller than the Quanto. So is the design, especially on the rear-side.
Shah said the company sold over 4.2 lakh units in the just concluded fiscal, when it launched 9 models including two brand new UVs - the TUV300 and the KUV100 - which helped the company clip at faster rate than the industry average at 7.5 per cent as against 6.3 per cent, respectively. Its exports grew at a much faster clip at over 20 per cent, Shah added.
The KUV is Mahindra's first 1.2-L offering with a petrol option and Shah said both the petrol and diesel models are selling equally good. So far, the company has sold over 35,000 KUVs and around 20,000 TUVs.