Known as the maker of commercial vehicles such as vans and light trucks, Force Motors is ready with its first passenger offering. The still-unnamed sports utility vehicle (SUV), slated for launch this June, will be in line with its heritage, Force Motors Managing Director Prasan Firodia tells Sayantani Kar. However, this will not be the first attempt at an SUV by the company. With a small distribution footprint in commercial vehicles, competing against the likes of Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra in the volume-end of the SUV market will be a tough task. But it is one, Firodia claims, his team is ready to take on. Excerpts from the interview.
Why did you decide to enter the passenger vehicles segment?
We expect a lot of learning as we get into the passenger car or personalised vehicle segment. This learning will get translated across the entire value chain, including commercial vehicles. From engineering to handling the end customer, there should be lessons for all the stages. After all, the norms for the M1 (less than seven seats) category, which we will enter with the sport utility vehicle (SUV), call for more sophistication. Of course, it is not that we are entering purely for the learning. This is one of the advantages but the move also costs money. But this is a learning curve that we needed to go through.
What made you opt for an SUV to enter the passenger vehicles segment?
We went with SUVs because traditionally, since the early-1950s, our DNA has been that of making utility-based vehicles. We started with a three-wheeler and then we launched the Matador, Minidor and ultimately the Traveller. The aspirations in the commercial utility vehicles segment too are changing. The foray into passenger vehicles will help us understand the emerging complexities in our original segment.
Why did you discontinue the Trax Gurkha, an SUV that you had tested?
It had been a strategic decision to focus on other vehicles and the front-end consumer management needed to be spruced up. Trax Gurkha’s engine also needed an upgrade. But with a new personalised vehicle division now, we could look at bringing it to the market eventually. There will be versions of the new SUV platform with additional features, such as more safety.
Next page - >