Mahindra celebrates 10 years of success in SA.


Mahindra is celebrating its 10th year in South Africa during 2014. For a new brand in a country with a plethora of global brands, it is certainly a heartening success story. From small beginnings in 2004 with two products – the Bolero pick-up and seven-seater Scorpio SUV – and four dealers, there are now more than 25 000 Mahindra vehicles on Southern African roads.

The company made a conscious decision from the outset to establish a subsidiary in South Africa instead of following the easier route of appointing an importer or distributor. This was due to the long term aspirations of the Mahindra Group to become an increasingly significant player on the African continent rather than looking for short term profitability.

Commenting on this milestone, Dr. Pawan Goenka, Chairman, Mahindra South Africa, said “We are particularly proud of our achievements at Mahindra South Africa which truly epitomise the Mahindra Group’s Rise philosophy of Alternative Thinking, Driving Positive Change and Accepting No Limits. This approach has helped make us one of the fastest growing automotive brands in the country.

He added, “I am confident that we would continue to grow strongly in the future backed by our diverse range of products that offer accessible technology and excellent value to our local customers.”

Mahindra SA has earned a good reputation for itself by offering added value to customers, which is positive for its brand image. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the company has revealed that Mahindra owners rate their vehicles very highly and have a high propensity to buy another Mahindra.

Since 2012, Mahindra SA has also been responsible for the sales, marketing and servicing of SsangYong products in SA following the takeover of the South Korean vehicle manufacturer by the Mahindra Group.

Annual sales have risen each year as more and more buyers select a model from the growing Mahindra and SsangYong model ranges for their toughness, durability and low running costs; it is a choice that makes good economic sense, particularly in these times of growing financial pressure.

Last year, sales in SA exceeded 4 000 Mahindra and SsangYong vehicles, which was an improvement of 4% on the 2012 figure. In 2012, Mahindra was declared the fastest growing brand in South Africa. This was revealed in an edition of Moneyweb, where RGT SMART, the Port Elizabeth-based automotive market intelligence company, plotted each automotive brand’s year-on-year sales growth. (RGT SMART collates and analyses SA vehicle sales statistics for a number of clients).

The Mahindra SA product range has grown to 10 models over the years, made up of the Mahindra Bolero and Genio pick-ups, Scorpio pick-up and SUV, Quanto SUV, XUV500 SUV, Xylo MPV, SsangYong Actyon Sport, Korando and Rexton W.

The current range of modern Mahindra and SsangYong vehicles feature a number of important safety features, while most models have service plans and certain derivatives also have extended warranties, all adding up to excellent value for money.

The fact that this 10-year period for Mahindra in SA included the global economic meltdown of 2008/9 meant challenging times for the fledgling local subsidiary of the multinational Mahindra Group. However, CEO Ashok Thakur says it turned out to be a time for character building which has strengthened the company going forward.

He added that Mahindra was better able to weather the economic upheavals in SA because it was a subsidiary of the powerful and financially resilient Mahindra Group which views business from a long term perspective.

“This was a time when we supported and encouraged our dealer network to overcome the tough trading environment and laid the foundations for an outstanding partnership between Mahindra SA and the network,” explained Thakur.

“In fact, only recently we were honoured at an international Mahindra conference as being among the five best distributors outside India, with our special strength being the strong bonds we have with our dealers.”

CEO Thakur explained that Mahindra had been aware from the outset of the demands that the African continent makes on vehicles and had undertaken rigorous local testing before launching new models. This was the case initially when the Bolero and Scorpio SUV underwent three years of evaluation in SA before the launch of Mahindra SA in 2004.

These models were instant successes as they were affordable entrants in their respective categories, with the Scorpio SUV proving it was unnecessary to spend over R300 000 to buy a seven-seater SUV while the rugged Bolero has proved a real workhorse.

The Mahindra SA dealer network has grown exponentially since 2004 and there are now 57 outlets providing excellent coverage countrywide. Many of these dealerships are multi-franchise operations, which make them viable, while most sell both Mahindra and SsangYong vehicles.

After-sales support to both dealers and customers is critical to the Mahindra SA growth strategy. Recent examples are the opening of a dedicated technical and management training centre in Centurion and a new, state-of-the-art, paperless, parts distribution centre in Jet Park to ensure consistent parts supply to the dealer network.

Mahindra, a diverse Indian group, started manufacturing vehicles (initially the Willlys Jeep) in 1945 but was largely focused on India for many decades. Now, however, it has global ambitions and is expanding operations rapidly with Mahindra products now exported to more than 100 countries. Growth in Africa is very much part of the group’s future strategy.

Mahindra’s new Rise global marketing and brand building strategy has been adopted quickly in SA, aided by a strong television advertising campaign which includes a TV commercial that was conceptualised and produced by local talent, using SA infrastructure and is being screened in global markets. In addition, a TV commercial for the XUV500 was shot and produced in SA for screening in Mahindra’s home market of India.

“We are fully committed to building on our strong foundations in South Africa established over the past 10 years and our main objective will be to continue to provide reliable vehicles which have low running costs to the motoring public of this country,” concluded Mahindra SA CEO, Ashok Thakur. “Our efforts are strengthened by proven products backed up by an enthusiastic dealer network offering outstanding sales and after-sales support.”



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