Consider any of the major automobile brands in the World. What is the one characteristic of the vehicle that first comes to mind? In most cases, it is the grille design. Whether it’s the “double kidney” grille of BMW, the 4 circles set in the middle of the grille for Audi or the three-pointed star of Mercedes Benz, the grille of the vehicle instantly makes it noticeable because it dominates the front of the vehicle.

Mahindra recently launched the latest version of their 4X4 SUV, Thar. As an owner of a Mahindra SUV I am happy to read from reviews that they have created a totally new vehicle that performs very well. However, this SUV has a new grille design. A design that is different from any of the other vehicles in their stable. I understand that this is mainly because of the objections that FIAT-Chrysler will raise since their brand, Jeep is the owner of the trademark “seven-slot” grille.

From 2011 onwards, Mahindra has consciously tried to move away from the “seven-slot” grille, a design they used ever since they started manufacturing the Willys Jeep in the late 1940s. Many vehicles and new models have been launched, each with its own different grille design. While the vehicle design has improved a lot, the grille still remains very non-descript. The grille on the latest Thar is a case in point. Somehow, Mahindra seems to be missing out on creating a grille design that becomes a statement of its brand.

Vehicle grille design is a crucial element that establishes an automotive manufacturer’s brand, since it is the most visible element when looking at the vehicle from the front. In fact, automobile brands such as BMW, Mercedes Benz and Honda even have grille-like designs on their electric car concepts despite their serving no mechanical purpose. Most of these brands have used the same grille designs for years except for adjustments to suit the vehicle’s shape.

Most Indian cars, even the Suzuki made in India, have no fixed grille design. It is good to see Tata Motors making an honest effort in doing this and thereby establishing a design statement synonymous with the brand.

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