New shared platforms key to improved safety, tech

Indian automaker, Mahindra is preparing a new model onslaught in the next three years, with an array of products set to strengthen its lineup in Australia and around the world.

The first new product for Mahindra will arrive in the form of a compact SUV to be positioned below the current seven-seat XUV500 and use a platform provided by the Ssangyong Tivoli, set to appear in the next 12 to 18 months.

The real revolution begins after that, with three all-new platforms set to underpin a makeover of Mahindra’s entire range.

Developed in collaboration with Ssangyong and Pininfarina, two companies in which Mahindra has controlled a majority share since 2011 and 2015 respectively, the new platforms are to be developed with global safety regulations in mind.

At the launch of the petrol XUV500 seven-seat SUV on the Gold Coast, Mahindra’s chief of international operations, Arvind Mathew, told media the brand’s future growth would be based around a steady flow of new product.

“Over the next three years there will be a compact SUV, there will be platform changes for XUV, platform changes for Pik Up,” Mathew said.

“We will be doing joint platforms with Ssangyong, so our products will be available for export but we have to be careful that they do meet [international regulations]... definitely for crash and pedestrian protection.”

While Mathew didn’t divulge which of the new co-developed platforms would underpin which models, he was able to give a chronological listing for the model roll-out.

The cars will start appearing once Mahindra has added an automatic variant of its existing of its existing Pik Up ute to the local lineup, and introduced the Tivoli-based small SUV.

First will be a replacement for the XUV500 family SUV, followed by a new-generation Scorpio SUV – the current generation of which forms the basis for today's Pik Up. The third new model will be an all-new version of the Thar, a Jeep Wrangler-style vehicle that currently shares some of its DNA with the original Willys Jeep.

“The one that is out there does not meet Australian regs for crash,” Mathew explained, “but the next generation sure will.”

The model renewal opens the door for models like the Scorpio SUV to come to Australia, joining the growing tide of ute-based SUVs like the HiLux-based Toyota Fortuner.

Where Mahindra will position itself will be slightly different, though. As other automakers vie for premium positioning and technology, Mahindra promises to keep things simple.

“We’ve been around for 70 years. We’ve been building these vehicles for 70 years and we have a lot of experience,” Mathew declared.

“We’re not trying to be something we’re not as long as we stick to our core in terms of what we do best we’ll be fine.”

Safety is set to be one of the key pillars of the new family. When asked if the new models would boost the current XUV500’s safety standing from a four-star ANCAP rating to an expected five-star score, Mathew didn’t mince words, giving a simple “yes” in reply.

“Going up from four to five [stars], you really need a new platform. You cannot do cut and paste anymore, it’s fundamental to the platform” he explained.

One new model not on Mahindra’s local radar however is a rebadged version of the new Ssangyong Rexton recently announced for India as the Mahindra XUV700.

Mahindra Australia’s marketing manager, James Halliwell, confirmed to CarAdvice  the large SUV was destined to remain an India-only product for the foreseeable future.