Mahindra Tourister achieves market leadership in school bus segment
Mahindra Navistar will launch its new range of trucks and buses towards the end of this year. The company has a clear strategy of creating a customer-centric brand for itself in the commercial vehicle segment. It is also focusing on building equity for the existing range of trucks and buses in the light commercial vehicle range. Among the existing range of vehicles, the Mahindra Tourister is the flagship product that has established market leadership in the school bus segment.
In an exclusive interview to Motorindia, Mr. Akhilesh Kumar, Vice President – Sales and Marketing, Mahindra Navistar Automotives Ltd., said that Mahindra Tourister has now become the No.1 in the school bus segment (15 to 25-seater). The company is launching a new Tourister model by name Tourister i with a new front facia and 32 additional features which will help strengthen the vehicle’s brand equity in the market.
Excerpts from the interview with Mr. Akhilesh Kumar:
Question: Mahindra Navistar has established leadership position in the school bus segment? What contributed for this success?
Answer: Over the years the ‘Tourister’ brand has consistently delivered fantastic value to its customers in the school bus segment. Our school buses provide the most contemporary styling, highest mileage, lowest maintenance cost, best-in-class features and a good service back-up; all this at a competitive cost. Secondly, in keeping with the customer-centric philosophy of our company, we have time and again upgraded our buses with better features and new variant introductions to suit our customer needs. We are the first and the only manufacturer to provide CRDe technology in our buses which ensures the best-in-class comfort ride due to the low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) factor.
This year too we have launched an improved range of buses, Tourister i.
Thirdly, our initiatives at the ground level also have played a major role. We keep talking to our customers throughout the year. We have one of the largest direct mailer programs where we contact over 65,000 schools across the country.
Q: You mentioned the launch of Tourister i range of school buses? How is this different from the current Tourister range?
A: Tourister i is an improved version of the Tourister range. In keeping with our philosophy to keep upgrading our offerings to provide better value, Tourister i was launched. Tourister i will sport a new front facia with stylish front and rear bumpers. We have also introduced 32 additional features which will help strengthen Tourister i brand equity in the market.
Q: What about the product range you offer in this segment – seating capacity?
A: The Tourister range of school buses includes offerings in the 15, 25, 32, 40-seater capacity. These are BS II compliant. We also have a CNG variant of our 25-seater. Also we are the only manufacturer to offer CRDe powered engine with the lowest NVH factor in our 25-seater Tourister bus.
Last year we introduced the lowest cost factory made school bus ‘Vikrant’ for the semi-urban and rural towns. Vikrant has a seating capacity of 14, including the driver.
Q: How many vehicles have been sold till date, and what is the target for the current year?
A: Last year for the school bus season we sold over 2,500 vehicles, which was a 50 per cent growth over the previous year. This year we strive to retain the No.1 position in the segment.
Q: What are the unique features that differentiate your products from those offered by the competitors?
A: As mentioned before we have been consistently delivering fantastic value to our customers. We have contemporary styling, highest mileage and lowest maintenance, good service back-up all at a competitive price.
Q: Which are the major markets in which you have had success traditionally and the new markets which you have captured in recent years?
A: The Tourister brand has been well accepted throughout the country. Last year we managed to further strengthen our presence across the southern States through concentrated marketing efforts. We continue to develop and nurture each of our markets to remain ahead of competition.
Q: You were the first to introduce CRDe technology in the commercial vehicle segment. Do you offer this in the school buses as well, and has this been the reason for the resounding success?
A: At this point of time, CRDe is only available in 25 seater buses. CRDe has been a great image booster for the Tourister brand. We are the first and the only player in the segment to offer this technology in commercial vehicles. Customers have really appreciated our CRDe offering in terms of the low NVH factor.
Q: Do you also offer a CNG version in the school and tourist bus segment?
A: Yes, we do, but at present only on the 25 seater platform.
Q: Do you have plans to introduce more variants in this segment? Any further feature that you plan to add to the product to make it more attractive to the customer?
A: We are constantly looking to improve our range; we plan to launch BS III variants of 15, 32 and 40 seaters, beside s providing CRDe and CNG across our range. There are also plans to launch the deluxe range of Tourister buses soon.
Q: Have you expanded your sales, service and spares network? How many sales and service outlets are there as on date?
A: We have a nationwide presence. Our network is spread across 150 dealerships for sales spares and service.
Q: How do you plan to sustain this market leadership in the future?
A: We will simply continue to do all the things that led us to become the No.1 and keep delivering value by upgrading our products and services based on customers’ needs.