Friday, June 23, 2017

Mahindra e2o plus : Be City Smart

Brand: Mahindra e2o
Company: Mahindra Rise

Brand Analysis Count: # 576

After the buying the Reva company from Chetan Maini in 2010, Mahindra tried to infuse the much-needed expertise and capital into the electric car company.One of the first things that Mahindra did was to rebrand the Reva cars to e2o.

The first e20 was launched in 2013 replacing the two door Reva car. The auto world was looking for some kind of revolution in the electric car segment when Mahindra took over the Reva company. But alas the status quo remains even today.

In 2016, the company retired the two door e2o and launched the four-door hatch branded as e2o plus. The change reflected the lukewarm response to the two-door car.e2o plus is a standard electric hatchback which looks more like a normal car where the earlier Reva and e2o looked more like a toy car. The company feels that the changes will fuel more consumer interest and adoption.

But odds are stacked against the electric car as of now in India. Despite the higher fuel cost and increased emissions, the government has not looked at making the electric vehicle market - its priority. The infrastructure for EV like charging stations are not existing in India. However, the silver lining is the stated objective of the Indian government to have 100% EV nation by 2030. Moreover, the government also plan to fund 60% of R&D expenses in this field to reduce the cost of technology.

So in one way, the path looks bright but the current market and marketing condition for e2o plus looks bleak. The price is the villain. The brand is priced between 6.3 lakh to 10lakh and there is a huge replacement cost of around Rs 3 lakh for the battery in 5 years. Although the cost of running the car is dirt cheap, the cost of ownership together with the battery replacement cost makes the car unviable purchase for a normal buyer.
e2o Plus is positioned as a city car. The brand is banking on the low running cost, non-polluting nature as the USPs.

Even if a consumer is genuinely interested in buying this car, the economics never works out in favor. The only way forward is to hope that the government will lend a hand in helping to reduce the cost of the car. There are other innovative business models that have emerged around the EV ecosystem. Notable is the Bangalore-based Lithium Urban-Tech which provides EV based transporting solutions to companies which will help firms reduced their carbon footprints. There are also reports of Ola creating a fleet of EV taxis. These emerging models will probably act as critical lifeline support for this category as a whole.
However, a breakthrough in the battery technology is going to be the savior for EV's future globally.

Related Brand


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maruti Suzuki Dzire : From Sub-brand to on its Own

Brand: Dzire
Company: Maruti Suzuki

Brand Analysis Count: # 575

From Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire to Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the brand had come a long way. Launched in 2008 as a reaction to the uptick in compact sedan sales, this sub-brand became the second largest selling brand the company's portfolio contributing 14% of the domestic sales. So far 1.38 million Dzires were sold in the country.

The brand launched as a sub-brand of the best selling hatchback Swift, the brand easily caught the fancy of the sedan-loving consumers of India. Dzire in all sense was a Swift with a boot. But customers loved the car.

In a brand promotion perspective, there was nothing remarkable about the brand's communication. There were regular campaigns for the brand which focused more on the " Desirability "  factor. The focus of the ads was to lure a trade-up to a bigger car. 

The major factor that pulled customers to Swift Dzire was the practicality. The car gave the performance of Swift with a bonus of a boot. However, on the design front, it was not aesthetically perfect. 

The success of compact sedans which was largely aided by the tax- rebate on sub 4meter cars, caught the fancy of all the car makers and most brands started launching their versions in this segment. The cars became better looking and proportionate and not like the hatchback+boot kind of design.

This has probably prompted the market leader to look at Dzire in a different light. The sub-brand not only got promoted as an independent brand but also got a brand new design. Interestingly the new Dzire shares the design (oops !) with new Swift but was launched much ahead of the new Swift. 
Although the front of the new Dzire looks very classy, the boot still derives the design cues of the older version which is a letdown.  One has to see the new Swift to make a judgment whether the new Dzire is entirely new or not.

However, from the branding perspective, we have one more example of a sub-brand becoming a standalone brand and Dzire truly deserves that status.