Monday, October 20, 2008

Is this the next International Scout?

Little is known about the exact details of Mahindra and GV-USA’s plans to build the new United States market Mahindra Pickups and (later) Scorpio SUV’s (in the photo above). The current understanding is that parts and assemblies will be sourced from India and shipped to an undisclosed factory in Ohio for final assembly of the vehicles set to launch here in late 2009.

When you look at the history of Mahindra and their well established, long term relationship with International Truck and Engine Corporation; many of the pieces fall in place. International’s Springfield Assembly Plant in Springfield, Ohio would be a great facility to assemble the new Mahindra light trucks. The Springfield Assembly Plant certainly has the capacity and capability to build light trucks efficiently and economically. The entire infrastructure required to build a body-on-frame vehicle is in place. And you cannot forget Springfield is where International built bodies for their own line of tough light trucks such as the Scout and Travelall from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Building trucks runs in the blood of that community, and they would do justice to Mahindra’s vehicles and commitment to making a high quality vehicle.

This leaves the question: Could International create a modern day Scout based upon the Mahindra chassis and drivetrain? Absolutely. Depending upon International’s motivation… With ties to Ford reduced to ‘business only’, any light truck non-compete agreements are likely to be in the circular file. GM has recently washed their hands of any interest in the company as well. International is now able to pursue any market they wish. With Mahindra, they have a ready-made chassis and powertrain that fits right in with their core product: High Quality, Rugged, and Efficient Diesel Trucks.

With the engineering, design, styling, testing, marketing, dealer, and distribution resources International has, and modern body assembly and painting facilities in Springfield; an updated Scout could easily be produced with minimal investment. International-bodied trucks could roll down the same line as Mahindra-bodied trucks. With the current US market affinity for retro styled vehicles, the timing is perfect for a modern Scout. With a heavy duty chassis and powertrain, top value and fuel efficiency, and styling that is modern with a nod to International’s past (think Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro) this is an easy build and an easy sell.

The time is right: Please International, make this happen!

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