Posted by Pradeep Kasliwal with D A Shaikh , On 6-Jun 2019




I have a bundle of memories of 35 years I spent with Mahindra and Mahindra.  I joined as a graduate trainee at Worli in the year 1966 and then moved to Kandivali, Ghatkopar, Igatpuri plant and R&D Nashik, finally retiring as Head Vehicle Engineering, in the year 2002.

Out of this bundle of memories, I would share here only the ‘Bolero Story’ since I was very much involved in the project.

Before 1970, Mahindra Petrol jeep was popular as a work horse with government departments, Police and Indian Army, besides civilian customers. The fuel crisis of 1970s forced Mahindra to dieselize jeeps, initially with a modified international tractor engine and then added an option of Peugeot high speed engine, indigenized at Igatpuri.

Those days, many customers used to convert basic soft top jeeps to full metal body by fabricators in the field. This necessitated market requirement of factory produced utility vehicles; hence models like Marshal and Armada were developed.

In the ‘90s the need was felt to upgrade the Armada model. Hence the Face lift of Armada was planned, in addition to the clean slate design - Scorpio. A platform, project group AFL, of multi-disciplined members was formed to develop   and launch the model, where the President Alan Durante gave me the role of Project Leader.  The cad design was worked out and tooling development started in 1998.  The design had new stream lined, new look front with curved windshield. Here, I would like to mention that during the concept stage Chairman Keshubh Mahindra insisted that new look must have curved windshield and not flat one followed in Armada. The use of Cad- Cam technology and new die shop IN Nashik proved a boon for design and toolings.

The first tooled up engineering prototype was launched in 1999, at the hands of Chairman Keshubh Mahindra, in presence of CFO Bharat Doshi, Head R&D Pawan Goenka and others.  The Chairman suggested some improvements, which were incorporated later

Besides, new look body, many new features {mentioned later} were worked out with specialist groups in R&D and ancillaries spread all over India. The project group coordinated and integrated into the vehicle, There was continuous monitoring the project by Alan Durante and Pawan Goenka. Also, MD Anand Mahindra use to drive the prototypes with a perspective of customer and suggest the improvements. This was first of its kind project run through multidisciplinary project team.

It was a great team work by R &D, manufacturing, marketing and auto ancillaries.

The new model was christened as ‘BOLERO’ by Managing Director Anand Mahindra and soft launch of the Bolero was done at the Taj mahal Hotel Mumbai, in August 2000.

The Bolero model introduced many new features for the first time , like- independent front suspension (instead of rigid leaf springs), in-built AC, ergonomic designed seats, power steering, power windows, central locking , acceptable NVH etc. With all these features and a new look, it was no more just an upgradation of Armada, but took shape of a new model in itself. Mahindra Bolero model fared very well in comparison with contemporary modes in market like- Toyota Qualis, Tata Sumo and Chrysler  Tavera In the subsequent years of production, new generation diesel engines were incorporated and also freshening of features was done and variants introduced.

The new look and modern features clubbed with value for money made Bolero most popular utility vehicle in the urban and rural market. Today, even in its twentieth year, the Mahindra Bolero model is ranked among top 5 utility vehicles of India. It has already crossed ONE MILLION sales marks.

Personally it was a great opportunity to be a part of new model. It was an occasion of honors when I was invited to join the 10th anniversary celebration of Mahindra Bolero in Mumbai in 2010.