When the Going Gets Tough...
The modern, ultra-luxury Range Rover seems to be more into luxury than anything else
While the price reduction that is going to be ‘made’ for the Range Rover in India is not much, the larger issue is the perception that an ultra-luxury massive SUV will now cost about half a crore rupees ‘only’. This has put the cat amongst the expensive pigeons in this category of cars, because, earlier, the perception based on the two-door high-end model of the same Range Rover was that it was a Rs1-crore car.
Is the Range Rover, then, all that it is made out to be? As a status symbol, yes, certainly. Whether it is a head-on challenger against the Japanese, German and South Korean competition remains to be seen; and not because it is not as tough as its lineage would have us believe. The older Land Rovers and Range Rovers, to be fair, were pretty much indestructible.
The larger issue here is a global slowdown in sales of expensive automobiles. While one reason for this is shifting preferences, despite lower oil prices, a deeper reason is that, much of the world—in and around the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea—is witnessing some conflict or the other. At such times, what sells more are the rough & ready pick-up versions of four-wheel drives which are what Land Rovers used to be famous for.
Sadly, the current models from Range Rover no longer come in such versions. To many, the Range Rover used to mean a larger Land Rover capable of going anywhere in the world, whether a road existed there or not. The modern Range Rover seems more into luxury, unless proved otherwise.
Ford Drags on
Ford’s new manufacturing plant—up and running in Gujarat—is an amazing story in itself, in terms of speed from idea to execution. Over the past 15-20 years, Ford moved away from Nashik (Maharashtra) as soon as local party politics became more than just a small bother, leaving behind a very pretty factory and paint-shop used as a mini-zoo and horticulture set-up. The state government spent years trying to figure out why Ford moved to Tamil Nadu when everybody else could see the answer as clear as daylight. However, while Ford tends to make decent enough cars in India; now, as before, the lingering impression is that we get those models which are being withdrawn elsewhere. Right from the early days, the Escort, Mondeo, Ikon, Fusion—all now withdrawn—and the more recent Figo, Ecosport as well as Fiesta, have been seen elsewhere, long before showing up in India. This is not going to get Ford anywhere rapidly. They have a couple of good small cars globally in the Ford Ka and Ford Focus brands which would be less obsolete. And, then, there is the Ford Puma, lurking in the shadows, nothing better in the low-priced sports car range.
Taking a Toll
Toll booths have been shut down in 62 locations all over India. How they were up and running, in the first instance, is being looked into; hopefully, there will be some resolution of the toll-booth mafia problem that has spread like cancer. No action could have been possible without citizens pointing this out.
A second list of similar illegal toll booths facing the axe on highways and roads all over India, including projects under construction, is expected.
If you see what you feel is an illegal toll booth, please use the ‘Public Grievances Portal’ online to escalate the issue. This, incidentally, also includes illegal parking lots. Don’t forget to include a copy of the toll or parking receipt though! In case you need help, do write in to: correspondent c/o Moneylife.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.