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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI : Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd’s (M&M) managing director Pawan Goenka is set to hang up his boots on 1 April after a stint of nearly three decades. In an interview, Goenka talked about the ongoing transition in the diversified Mahindra group and the road ahead for India’s auto industry. Edited excerpts:

How will the Indian auto industry cope with the technology-led disruptions in the coming decade?

More will change in this industry in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50 years. Changes are coming in various fronts which will also change the industry dynamics and will also change the players. If you look at 10 years from now, you will find some new players who, today, are emerging or don’t even exist. And you may find some well-known names that may not even exist 10 years from now. We don’t know which ones those would be, but there would be some who may not exist 10 years from now. The new emission and safety norms are driving the change in a big way. For Mahindra, we have some very exciting products coming up in the form of new products—the W601 and Z101.

How would you like to look back at your journey at M&M?

So, this (retirement) was planned seven years in advance, and we had a very good transition that was planned and executed in the meantime. The good thing is lot has happened in the last 27 years at Mahindra and it’s in very capable hands today. Therefore, the future is even brighter than what we have had in the past. That reassurance gives me satisfaction and fulfilment. I am retiring from active work but am not retiring from being around. Therefore, I would be engaged with the industry, not in an active way but as somebody who will be advising the industry in an informal way through Siam (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and try and help the industry in whichever way I can.

Are there any regrets?

I think the market share (in SUVs) we have today is lower than what we should have. But I have little doubt that with the launch of the new Thar and two new projects, we will get to where I consider our rightful market share. Also, both the SsangYong exit and the Ford joint venture not working out were victims of the covid-19 outbreak. We had to be a lot more conservative in how we deploy our cash and had to make sure that we don’t run out of financial resources to support our core domestic business. Two very large investments—SsangYong and Ford—would have sucked out a significant amount of cash from the company in the short term. It was a difficult call. Also, for the Ford JV, we had to take a call since we had to double down on electric vehicles.

How has M&M evolved in the past three decades?

The evolution of Mahindra has been on many fronts. The most obvious one has been our research and development (R&D) capability that we had in 1993 and what we are today. We have perhaps the best R&D infrastructure that any company has in India. I think we have reached the point of R&D ability to do products in both auto and tractor that would be right up there among the best. The second one: the plant infrastructure that we had in 1993, in both auto and tractor, compared to what we have today, is a significant enhancement from that time. That time, we had basic rudimentary plants and, today, we have plants which are state-of-the-art. Third, the financial strength we have; to be able to invest in multiple product development. Those days to get an approval for 550 crore investment for Scorpio was a difficult decision for the board because we knew it was like betting the company.

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