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Mahindra launches Designercars

By Our Staff Correspondent

MUMBAI, DEC. 6. Mahindra Auto Specialities Ltd. (MASL), a 100 per cent subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has launched Designercars, a range of custom-developed cars for the Indian markets.

Mr. Anand Mahindra, managing director, M&M, said, ``The world over, automobile companies are attempting to participate more fully in downstream value chain, to be part of the `post-sales' process as today, the automobile is a lifestyle product.''

``Rapidly evolving technologies have opened up new opportunities for the introduction of new ideas in the market. MASL was formed with the objective of exploring the potential for `customisation' of vehicles and also to take advantage of these technological developments, leading to better `value' to our customers. Designercars marks the first step towards attaining our objectives,'' said Mr. Alan Durante, chairman, MASL.

MASL is headquartered in Mumbai with offices in Delhi and Bangalore. It has also got design support from Jayem Automotives Ltd., a joint venture company of M&M based in Coimbatore. Mr. Jaideep Devare, managing director, MASL, said, ``We will ensure that we are able to cover the country in a phased manner and deliver customised automotive solutions.''

According to Mr. Mahindra, India is going to be the growth market for the world in the automotive business but for the current temporary slowdown. ``It is amazing how many people want to customise tractors in India. Indians have a far greater penchant for customisation than even Southeast Asia. We could look to foreign companies to get accessories,'' he said.

The Designercars, four versions, will be on display at the Mumbai Auto show this week. The versions include the modified Bolero, Voila, Bolero Sportz and the X-over (Crossover). The Bolero is a Tarun Tahiliani creation and he has imparted a `designer' finish to the Mahindra Bolero. The Voila is positioned for the woman on the go and was conceptualised by Ms. Sangeeta Ramachandran of NIFT and a designer at MASL. The car is based on the research results of a market survey conducted to understand the preferences, style and functionalities in a woman's car. The Bolero Sportz is has customised fittings and comes with a rear entertainment system and DVD player, a 10-CD changer and a Kenwood music system with two woofers and two amplifiers.

While the modified Bolero would cost around Rs. 2.50 lakhs more than the standard version, the `Sportz' would cost around Rs. 2 lakhs extra (without the DVD player). ``Those vehicles which are highly customised would take longer to deliver. The customisation currently is only for the exteriors and interiors and does not involve the engine replacement but the tie-up with Jayem will allow engine replacement also in some time.'' said Mr. Devare. The company is exploring tie-ups with other companies, for example, the Voila is on a Daewoo Matiz base. MASL plans to sell 80-100 such vehicles in the first six months.

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