Mahindra & Mahindra: "We have given the market a superior product in terms of technology and fuel economy"

Kairas Vakharia
"With focus of the government on Infrastructure development and with the recent Make in India Initiatives taking form, we feel that the Backhoe Loader Industry will bounce back to new highs from its current low phase," says Mr. Kairas Vakharia, Senior Vice President - Innovation & Business Head - Construction Equipment, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, in an interview with S.A.Faridi adding that "Our Range of Backhoe Loaders have gained acceptance in the Indian market space today. We have given the market a superior product in terms of technology and fuel economy. In line with this, we are seeing a gradual growth in our numbers. 2015 has been a good year so far for us. Overall the industry has de-grown by over 4% YTD over last year. However, during the same period, we have grown by 75%. In addition to this, we have aggressively increased our footprint across India by increasing number of dealers to 65 nos from 35 nos this year."

Backhoe is the most familiar machine in the Indian infrastructure construction sector where most manufacturers are big brands. Therefore, the main differentiator is the product technology, efficiency, and ROI. Being a comparatively new entrant; how has Mahindra EarthMaster been faring on this front?

The Mahindra EarthMaster range of Backhoe Loaders presents the discerning Indian customer with the choice to BREAKFREE from the limitations of dated technology. Equipped with superior technology coupled with unmatched fuel economy, superior style and operator comfort, the Mahindra EarthMaster offers a host of benefits to the earthmover and is the ideal machine for all heavy duty applications like excavation, loading, grading, dozing, and cutting.

Mahindra EarthMaster VX
Both the Mahindra EarthMaster SX and VX variants offer superior and best in class fuel efficiency and productivity. The EarthMaster VX is powered by the Mahindra DITEC Engine while the EarthMaster SX is powered by the Mahindra mDI engine. EarthMaster VX offers best in class Fuel Efficiency of 4.5 l/hr on backhoe excavation in the 83 HP category, which the EarthMaster SX offers 4l/hr for the same and is best in class in the 76 HP category. This kind of Best in Class Fuel efficiency has a direct impact on customer’s profitability and Mahindra EarthMaster has been able to influence it directly with better technology.

We have given the market a superior product in terms of technology and fuel economy. To start with technology, we are the first ones to fit our machines with joysticks, telematics, voice assistant messages, instrument clusters, and language compatibility.

The Mahindra EarthMaster VX comes with REMOTECARE feature, the first and only one of its kind in backhoe loaders in India. It is an intelligent communication system that keeps the business owner or fleet manager constantly informed about the machine through mobile phone based SMS updates. This allows customers to BREAKFREE from lack of control over business, and helps them to manage their fleets from the comforts of their offices, cars or homes. REMOTECARE has intelligent in-built sensors which are capable of sensing and detecting critical faults in time and by giving warning in advance to the owner through SMS; it also helps in maintaining the health of the machine. Since it is preventative in nature, it helps prevent major breakdown.

Keeping the Indian customers’ mindset in mind, who all are familiar with the latest technology but always look for the lowest possible price, what innovations/modifications Mahindra did in the last two years to make its equipment value for money?

Mahindra EarthMaster SX
The Construction Equipment Division of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. offers three variants Mahindra EarthMaster VX, Mahindra EarthMaster SX, and Mahindra EarthMaster 4WD. The flagship Mahindra EarthMaster VX caters to the top end of the market with its superior features, while the EarthMaster SX caters to the entry level customers with its highly competitive price. The Mahindra EarthMaster SX has been introduced to cater to the price sensitive market. It comes powered by the Mahindra mDI engine and gives a fuel efficiency of 4 l/hr which is the best in class in the 76 HP category.

Being a single product company, it’s tough to manage top and bottom line in this economic crisis. How is Mahindra expecting to close 2015?

Our Range of Backhoe Loaders have gained acceptance in the Indian Market space today. In line with this we are seeing a gradual growth in our numbers. The year 2015 has been a good year so far for us. Overall the industry has de-grown by over 4% YTD over the last year. However, during the same period, we grew by 75%.

In addition to this, we have aggressively increased our footprint across the country by increasing number of dealers to 65 from 35 this year.

In addition, M&M is working towards expanding its product portfolio to cover all major segments of the earthmoving category of equipment.

The government is giving special attention to improve North-East infrastructure and it is going to be a big market for Backhoe loaders due to its versatility and compactness. What are your plans to tape this upcoming market?

We have recently introduced our 4WD version of Mahindra EarthMaster, which comes powered with the Mahindra DITEC 83 HP engine. We have brought in a powerful product which is capable of meeting the requirements of a tough terrain such as that of the North East. As the market expands and becomes more attractive in the North-East, we will further intensify our presence and strategy for this market in particular.

How do you see the Backhoe Loaders Market in coming years?

Currently, the scenario in the BHL Industry is challenging with relatively no growth. In fact, as per our estimates BHL Industry has de grown in Q1 FY 16 by almost 4% over Q1 FY 15. However India’s equipment penetration level relative to our population is far below global levels.

The backhoe loaders segment has a potential to bounce back. With focus of government on Infrastructure development and with the recent Make in India Initiatives taking form, we feel that the Backhoe Loader Industry will bounce back to new heights from its current low phase. Hence, we believe that India continues to be a high potential market for construction equipment and M&M’s investment in this segment will continue as planned originally.

In the next few years, the size of the Indian CE industry, by volume, will begin to approach that of Europe. India along with China and Brazil, is poised to be one amongst three large & growing CE markets globally. This has led to various new players entering the industry. We expect the CE industry to become hyper competitive with constant pressure on existing players & new incumbents to continuously improve their value proposition & cut costs. The high margins that have traditionally been earned by market leaders will come down.

How do you see the equipment demand coming from the 100 Smart cities projects and your plan to capture major share of the business?

No project is possible without Earth moving. The Backhoe Loader will be one of the most critical equipments in all such projects considering the quantum of excavation and leveling that would be involved. The future looks bright with the hope such projects would move towards execution.

What are your plans for Excon 2015? What innovation one would see at your stand?

Excon 2015 would be an opportunity for us to showcase our Entire range of Backhoe Loaders to the market. In addition to this, we would like to show a glimpse of our exciting product line planned. There would be a lot to see and know at our Stall OD 82. For now we shall keep it under wraps to unwrap at the venue!
NBM&CW November 2015
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