Mahindra & Mahindra’s hugely successful and popular SUV, the Scorpio, has completed 15 years in the Indian automobile market and this is definitely a watershed moment for the brand. Alan Durante, a retired M&M executive, has stated that the company had a vision of replacing Armada and Bolero with a solid and state-of-the-art vehicle to compete against all other companies, which were there in the market at that time. The first thing which had to be done was to bring someone who was familiar with global vehicles, technology and markets. Therefore, they brought with Pawan Goenka from General Motors on-board and by mid-1998, the blueprint of the car was frozen.
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The finished product was launched in June 2002 from Mahindra’s Nashik plant but the first thought which came to the minds of most people was that this could be the most expensive mistake from Mahindra & Mahindra as they were still undergoing process reengineering with the help of overseas consultants.
However, the idea clicked and customers preferred this SUV so much that it became a benchmark for the SUV segment in the country, notching up sales figures of 5,80,000 units over the years. Domestic sales of this vehicle per year have been estimated around 50, 000 units over the last 6 years or so. The total overseas sales have been recorded as 55, 000 units. The highest sales in a year have been 51, 553 units for the fiscal year 2015.
Mahindra said that the Scorpio project became the biggest project that Mahindra ever made in its history of automobile manufacturing. There was no option of failure as everybody had their respective careers at risk. The Scorpio went on to redefine the SUV market of India with the innovative “car-plus” positioning and transformed the unglamorous UV proposition into something attractive and glamorous.
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Goenka says that in the beginning they thought that they should have given more space to the Scorpio or rather made the vehicle a foot longer to provide more space in the rear as luggage space. However, later on they realized that its biggest asset lies in its strength and the fact that it was still a compact vehicle from all aspects. He also said that the Scorpio probably gave M&M its maximum brand value.
The SUV segment has rapidly expanded in recent times and there have been several new launches in the category over the years. Mahindra & Mahindra is now planning on refreshing its Scorpio and several other UVs like the XUV500 in order to compete better with its rivals across segments. The refreshed Scorpio will have a new front fascia with higher power figures from the tried and tested 2.2-litre diesel engine. The Scorpio has been periodically upgraded through changes in engineering, design, powertrain and features in order to keep it relevant.