Ground clearance measurement rule revision likely

The government may soon mandate the measurement of ground clearance of vehicles in an unladen condition, making it harder for SUVs to be lowered to below 170mm off the ground.

As we reported earlier, Mahindra got around the government’s new SUV tax cleverly and inexpensively, by using an alternate measurement methodology and adding a simple stone guard under the engine to bring its ground clearance down from 200mm to 160mm. This solution, which did not require any major re-engineering, allows the XUV500 to duck below the 170mm minimum ground clearance mark. As a result the Mahindra SUV escapes from being qualified as an SUV and an additional three percent of excise duty (SUVs are attract a 30 percent excise tax while cars longer than four metres attract 27 percent) and this translates to savings of approximately Rs. 30,000 on the sticker price of each car. 

However, the government has wisened up to how easily Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has worked around the regulation and is planning to revise the ground clearance measurement procedure. While ground clearance will still be measured from the lowest point on the car, the revised methodology would require the vehicle to be measured unladen.  

The current methodology used measures the ground clearance of all vehicles in a fully laden condition. The XUV500 with its new stone guard when measured fully laden has a ground clearance of 160mm but this could rise by 30-40mm with the suspension expanding in unladen conditions. Will M&M drop the stone guard further? It won’t work because with a full load, a lower stone guard would be vulnerable and prone to damage especially over large speedbreakers and stones.  “If this new regulation comes in we won’t be able to modify our cars and will just have to accept the SUV tax” says Dr Pawan Goenka, president of M&M. “We will have to pass on the additional cost to customer” he adds.

So, if you’re in the market for an XUV500, the time to book one is now and save approximately Rs 30,000 before the revised regulation comes into effect.

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Issue: 195 | Autocar India: November 2015

More reviews, features, motorsport stories and the latest from the automotive world in this issue of Autocar India. Get your copy now!
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