Mahindra has parted ways from the Navistar JV, and their trucks as well as bus operations are separately known as Mahindra Trucks and Buses Limited (MTBL). They have aggressive plans for the future, and it seems those have begun to surface!
One of our spies caught an AC Bus on test. Upon first glance, we were not able to identify the manufacturer as well as further details. However, after digging up a wee bit more we understood that this is a Mahindra bus! It was a rear-engined bus and had the air-conditioning unit on top of it with an “ON TEST” lettering at the back.
MTBL is trying real hard to penetrate into the tough market which is led by Tata and others. Mahindra already has a product named COSMO for use as school buses. The spied bus is much larger, and is definitely directed at intercity route operators as well as tour undertakers.
The quality of the build appears fairly decent. We do not have a frontal shot to understand the face of Mahindra’s upcoming buses.
Mahindra could find it difficult to break the hold of Tata and Volvo from the bus market. Another important factor is that the above-mentioned segment is undergoing a slowdown and operators aren’t really making any big-ticket purchases.
The bus would, however, be a luxurious one indeed. It would have approximately 40 seats, and expectedly the option for a semi-recline as well. Air-conditioning will ensure a proper environment, and a probable air-suspension will prevent jittery rides.
We aren’t sure about the engine options. Mahindra has had a 7.2 Litre mill from the Navistar days, with the options of 210 hp and 260 hp. To bring down NVH levels, they should opt for more number of cylinders in the engine of a given capacity.
The ultimate decider will be the pricing. If Mahindra can maintain their knack of aggressive pricing in this segment, we feel they can rack up some good margins and upset the big boys. During our interaction with top MTBL officials a few days back, we understood that Mahindra will look more towards quality and offer features better than their rivals. Prices, are hence expected to be not below the competition but possibly a wee bit higher.
Nonetheless, we are trying to gather more information on this and will share with you as soon as we get more dope on this. Till then do share with us, what do you feel about Mahindra’s prospects in this arena!