Known more for its ubiquitous Trump, Tempo and Traveller carriers, Pune-based Force Motors is all set to begin a new chapter with the launch of a premium SUV next month.
The vehicle has been developed using Force’s strength as the sole supplier of Mercedes engines in India and would be powered by a 2.2-litre common rail diesel engine similar to the ones used in the Mercedes C Class but adapted to the needs of an off roader.
“It has a surgically altered Mercedes heart but it is not a Mercedes SUV,” said Prasan Firodia, managing director, Force Motors. “Getting into the competitive SUV market is a risk for us, but it is worth taking. We spent only R150 crore in developing this vehicle as we already had the engine. The financial downside is not too great.”
The vehicle will be priced between R10 and R12 lakh and compete with the Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari and Toyota Innova.
The bigger challenge was to make the brand attractive enough, Firodia said. “The perception of the brand is a concern but in the process of diversification we will have to go through this. The segment has a huge potential and currently sells 65,000 units per year. We would be happy if we can sell 4,000 units initially.”
However, the firm underlined it would not lose focus on its bread and butter business and any more forays into passenger vehicle segment would depend on the success of this SUV. “Commercial vehicles would remain our mainstay as it would be foolish of us to neglect that in favour of the SUV,” Firodia said. “We are strong in the LCV space and Traveller is doing well. Last year it was selling 400 units a month, which has gone up to 1,000 a month now.”