Eicher Polaris, the joint venture between Eicher Motors of India and Polaris Industries and the manufacturer of the Multix small, task-oriented vehicle, has been shut down due to poor sales. Eicher reported that initial interest in the Multix was good but could not be sustained over the long term, especially in the rural markets. The Multix was marketed as India’s first personal utility vehicle that could be used to carry passengers or cargo. The vehicle was designed with flexibility in mind from the beginning so that it could be used as a work vehicle, a family vehicle and even a power generator for the home in rural communities.
The joint venture formed in 2012 and the vehicle launched in 2015 after a significant amount of money and resources were put into market research and product development. Management initially expected sales of 10,000 to 12,000 units that would grow to 100,000 units annually. However, the joint venture showed signs of difficulty by early 2017 and management adjusted their marketing strategy and put more resources into the effort including adding more dealers. These efforts targeted the original market, the rural customer, but failed to make inroads. Later in the year, the joint venture steered in a new direction and started targeting urban customers. Apparently this strategy did not produce enough results. Eicher and Polaris spent an estimated $60 million to bring the vehicle to market. For the last full year ending March 31, 2017 the Eicher Polaris JV reported a loss of approximately $14 million. Some people attributed the lack of adoption to conservative attitudes of the rural customer base that may have been unwilling try such a new vehicle concept. Learn more: Autoindia.com
SVR’s Take: This must be a disappointment for Polaris. A lot of time, effort and resources were put into the joint venture and the vehicle. If successful, the Multix would have been a nice addition to the Polaris international portfolio of small, task-oriented vehicle lineups like Aixam, Goupil, GEM and Taylor-Dunn. The Multix would have given them a foothold in the large and growing Indian commercial/work vehicle market and served as a potential jumping off point to export to other countries in the region. Polaris is intent on growing international sales and it is hard to believe they would abandon the Indian and Southeast Asia STOV markets altogether. One option may be to acquire an existing manufacturer.