Mahindra SA, operational since 2004, is claiming to be the fastest-growing automotive brand in South Africa. The automaker quotes the findings of RGT Smart, a Port Elizabeth-based automotive market intelligence company, which plotted sales growth over a five-month period to the end of May 2012 and compared this with the brand’s status at the end of May 2011. It determined Mahindra that grew by 124% on combined sales of passenger vehicles and LCVs over this period – with sales increasing from 699 to 1563 units – to become the fastest-growing automotive brand in SA in its segments. Next best was Jaguar, with a 94% growth rate, Kia was third and Jeep, fourth. The survey, however, calculated the sales estimates of non-reporters to Naamsa – Kia, Hyundai and Chery. 'SUCCESSFUL TURNAROUND' “This is very encouraging,” commented Mahindra SA’s CEO Ashok Thakur. “We are seeing the fruits of a comprehensive and successful turnaround strategy that put the company in a strong position for growth after the economic woes of 2008/9."Another key factor, according to Thakur, was the buyiout of local company African Investments (which held 49% in the company) by Mahindra & Mahindra to make the South African division a wholly-owned subsidiary. The introduction of new models such as the XUV500 SUV and the Genio pick-up as well as special editions of existing models, had boosted interest in the brand, while big improvements had also been made in terms of working with the dealer network to ensure a higher level of parts supply and improve general levels of servicing, Thakur continued.Mahindra SA’s dealer has 56 dealers (15 added since January 2012) and 53 are already operational and the automaker hopes to double its sales during 2012. “We are aware that this is a faster growth rate than the average for the industry, but are confident of being able to achieve these sales.” Thakur said.