Mahindra & Mahindra’s efforts to spruce up its utility vehicle range and stick ‘closer to its DNA’ seems to be paying off, with the new Bolero Neo notching up a robust booking over 5,000 units within the first three weeks of its launch.
The first model to be based on the new back-to-the-basics philosophy was Thar 2020, and that model continues to do extremely well with a current backlog of 39,000 units.
The model was initially being produced at the rate of around 2,000, which was then doubled to around 4,000 units per month. However, even this is clearly turning out not to be enough as the current order book of 39,000 will take another 10 months to deliver.
Bolero Neo can be considered the second model that has been launched in keeping with the company’s new philosophy of sticking close to its DNA as a home grown automaker that delivers value-for-money, rugged and dependable vehicles.
The company pitches the Bolero Neo as the only ‘true blue SUV’ in the under-10 lakhs segment — again leveraging its two traditional strengths — value-for-money and ruggedness.
The Bolero Neo, priced in the Rs 9-10 lakh range, is an attempt to give a makeover to the Bolero, the company’s mass-market, rough-and-ready, but basic UV. The attempt is to make it more upmarket and up-to-date, without losing the key ingredients of value and ruggedness.
To make the Neo, the company sacrificed its TUV 300 model, which anyway was not selling well. The TUV 300 never managed to find its customer, given its confused positioning between the entry-level TUV 100 and the more costly Scorpio.
Given the total booking of 5,500 already, it’s likely that the Neo has notched up more bookings in the first three weeks of its life than the TUV 300 did in the last two years.
The end result of the attempt to contemporize the ageing warhorse is a more refined, gentlemanly Bolero that offers more respectable looks and comfort without sacrificing on either affordability or ruggedness.
Indeed, it is therefore very likely that the Neo may be eating into the sales of the classic Bolero, which used to sell around 5,000 units per month.
The 5,000 bookings picked up by the Neo within three weeks of its introduction on July 13 seems to have impacted the order-book of Bolero classic. The total outstanding bookings for Bolero is only around 4,000 at present, considerably less than Scorpio and XUV300.
Nevertheless, the classic Bolero is likely to continue to appeal to a certain kind of customer who wants a basic look.
Meanwhile, the demand for Scorpio and XUV300 continue to be unaffected and steady.
According to M&M, the total outstanding bookings for Scorpio — which is priced in the Rs 13-17 lakh range — is around 6,000 units, equal to about 1.5 months of production.
The XUV300, a comfort-oriented car-like UV priced in the Rs 8-11 lakh range, currently has outstanding booking of 10,000 units, which is equal to two months of production.
The fifth vehicle that is seeing strong demand in the market is the Pikup, a mid-size commercial vehicle.
The company saw nearly 30,000 Pikups being booked during the three months from April to July, despite the impact of the COVID-19 second wave.
Among the vehicles that have seen a gradual tapering off of demand is XUV500, the premium SUV from M&M.
The company said it will launch XUV700, widely expected to replace XUV500, before the end of September.