M&M pumped in around Rs 850 crore in the XUV500 project and went flat-out to achieve good quality standards. “We spent almost two months to perfect the open-shut mechanism of the utility box on the dashboard,” says Rajan Wadhera, head product planning and technology. Efforts in climbing the curve in fit and finish included reducing the gaps in various parts of the body. For example, the margin for gaps and flushness in the body in the XUV500 was set at 4mm, which is much less than the margin on the Scorpio when its production started in 2002.
“Life would have also been simpler if I had the liberty of increasing the price by another Rs 2-3 lakh,” recalls Wadhera. The XUV500’s specifications had to be built to a fixed cost. “One example is the infotainment system. Trying to pack in as many functionalities was tough. You can choose a Harman Kardon system or even a system like the Audi Q5's. But that would add to cost significantly,” adds Wadhera.
To ensure reliability, M&M also tested 250 prototypes in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, USA, UAE, Brazil, China, Sweden, UK, Germany and Africa, clocking approximately 2.35 million kilometres (India included).
M&M’s Nasik plant, where the XUV500 is built, has production processes from Ford and Renault — its former joint venture partners. MAPS, Mahindra's production system, combines some of the company’s own processes with the best bits of Ford and Renault processes. With SsangYong now a part of M&M, going forward, the production system may include best practices of the Korean manufacturer too.
“In MAPS, the focus revolves around the worker. He is the king. You have to provide equipment, conveyors and facilities in a manner that gives him less fatigue and is ergonomically friendly. In Nasik, we had five to six stages where people could start working with their hands. For example, in the XUV500 line, there are a lot of electricals which are unlike the Scorpio, and there are a lot of blind spots, so we created a tool to help them with this,” explains Vijay Dhongde, CEO, Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers, who is responsible for the entire Chakan plant operations.
In the run-up to the XUV’s production, Dhongde and his team had the task of training the workers not only for assembling skills but also achieving high quality. As part of the orientation process, the employees working in the XUV500’s production were asked not to go to other production lines at Chakan. (The plant also rolls out the Maxximo, Genio and Navistar trucks). “We ensured that these guys don’t move to the commercial-vehicles side of things,” says Dhongde.
Currently, the XUV500 line can roll out 2,000 vehicles per month in a single shift. The plan is to ramp up gradually while ensuring good production quality levels. For example, every vehicle does a 50km drive after the assembly instead of the usual 10km drive for various checks. “Our objective is to achieve best-in-class fit and finish,” says Sanjiv Anand, senior general manager at Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers.