Ramkripa Ananthan’s Trailblazing Journey in Shaping India’s SUV Landscape

Posted by: Prof. T. Subraja

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Ramkripa Ananthan’s Trailblazing Journey in Shaping India’s SUV Landscape

In the traditionally male-dominated realm of automotive design, Ramkripa Ananthan, an alumnus of IIT Bombay, has emerged as a trailblazer, leaving an indelible mark on the Indian SUV landscape. Her journey is a testament to both brilliance and perseverance, starting as an interior designer at Mahindra & Mahindra in 1997 and ascending to become the driving force behind some of the company’s most iconic SUVs.Ananthan’s prodigious talent became evident early in her career. By 2005, she had assumed the role of Head of Design, spearheading the creation of the highly acclaimed Mahindra XUV 500. However, it was her transformative work on the legendary Mahindra Thar that truly showcased her creative prowess.


Recognizing the need for a modern reinterpretation of the rugged classic, Ananthan envisioned a design that seamlessly blended bold, contemporary elements with the timeless essence of the Thar. Her acute attention to detail and a deep understanding of consumer preferences resulted in a Thar that captured the nation’s imagination. The SUV’s striking visuals, harmoniously fused with the DNA of its predecessor, propelled it to unprecedented heights, making it an instant success. Ananthan’s design acumen extended beyond the Thar to the sophisticated Mahindra XUV 700. This technologically advanced and luxuriously appointed SUV, characterized by its innovative design, became the talk of the town, causing a 1.5-year waiting list due to overwhelming popularity.


Her influence transcended Mahindra as she crafted a personal legacy by designing the compact Mahindra XUV 300 and the Marazzo MPV. Collaborating with global teams for Ssangyong and MANA showcased Ananthan’s ability to navigate diverse design challenges.


Driven by her passion for innovation and a relentless dedication to pushing boundaries, Ananthan transitioned to Ola Electric, where she currently serves as the Head of Design. In this role, she is actively shaping the future of mobility, infusing her design sensibilities into the burgeoning electric vehicle space.Ramkripa Ananthan’s story is one of triumph, underscoring the idea that talent and hard work can overcome any obstacle. Her creations not only transformed the Indian SUV market but also served as an inspiration to aspiring designers globally. As she continues to break barriers in the ever-evolving world of automobile design, it is evident that Ramkripa Ananthan’s journey has only just begun.


Ramkripa Ananthan’s influence extends far beyond the realm of aesthetics. Her design decisions have demonstrably impacted brand perception and societal trends. The Mahindra Thar, for instance, experienced a surge in popularity not just for its design, but also for the lifestyle it embodied. Ananthan’s vision transformed the Thar into an aspirational symbol of adventure and individuality, resonating deeply with a generation seeking to break free from conventional norms. This cultural shift, fueled by Ananthan’s design, highlights the power of design to influence not just visual perception, but also societal values and aspirations


In a sector where gender diversity has historically been a challenge, Ananthan stands out as a beacon of change. Her ascent from an interior designer to a design leader in a prominent automotive company defies stereotypes and sends a powerful message about the importance of inclusivity in the industry. Ananthan’s success serves as an inspiration to aspiring female designers, showcasing that talent knows no gender boundaries.


The Mahindra Thar, a pivotal project in Ananthan’s career, speaks volumes about her ability to balance innovation with respect for heritage. The modern twist she imparted to this iconic model not only satisfied the demands of contemporary consumers but also retained the essence that made the Thar a legend in the first place. This delicate equilibrium between tradition and modernity has become a hallmark of Ananthan’s design philosophy.


Ananthan’s foray into the realm of electric vehicles at Ola Electric is a testament to her adaptability and forward-thinking approach. As the Head of Design in a company at the forefront of the electric mobility revolution, she is actively contributing to shaping the aesthetics of future transportation. Her transition reflects not only her commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends but also her dedication to sustainable and eco-friendly design.


Furthermore, Ananthan’s commitment to sustainability through her work at Ola Electric reflects a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the automotive industry. By prioritizing clean mobility solutions, she is not only contributing to a greener future but also setting an example for other designers to follow. Her leadership in this space paves the way for a more responsible and sustainable automotive industry, one that prioritizes both human well-being and environmental health.


In conclusion, Ramkripa Ananthan’s journey from interiors to icons in shaping India’s SUV landscape is a narrative of triumph, resilience, and groundbreaking creativity. Her impact on Mahindra’s design legacy and her continued contributions to the electric vehicle space at Ola Electric underscore her position as a transformative figure in the automotive design world. As she remains at the forefront of innovation, breaking barriers, one can only anticipate the extraordinary designs and contributions that will mark the next chapters of her illustrious career.



  1. https://www.shekunj.com/article/news/meet-ramkripa-ananthan-the-designer-of-mens-most-loved-car-mahindra-thar?lang=en
  2. https://www.india.com/business/who-is-ramkripa-ananthan-success-story-mahindra-and-mahindra-woman-designer-behind-mahindra-thar-xuv-700-scorpio-6127583/
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