Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hummer, Jeep, Land Rover…. Mahindra

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard any new news or rumors on the Mahindra truck launch in the United States. Is Mahindra steadily and methodically moving forward with their plans? We assume they continue to see the opportunity before them through the haze of Detroit’s implosion.

On the surface, it seems like bad timing for Mahindra’s plans to bring a rugged diesel truck to the US market. But take a deeper look at what is going on with the competition and all of the necessary justification is right there:

Hummer - is rotting on the vine. It’s on GM’s chopping block. AM General and a Chinese company are the only interested parties and their intentions are uncertain at best. Still a great unique line of vehicles with strong premium brand identity. GM could do so many things to make it a viable brand, but apparently they can’t figure it out.

Jeep - is the emasculated shell of its former self. At one time it was a brand that made a strong statement about the individuality and outdoor lifestyle of its owner. Now it is a gelded byproduct of Chrysler platform sharing and build quality that never made it past 1983. The only hope for Jeep’s legacy is that Cerberus sells the name outright, and someone comes in and puts the Compass, Liberty, and Patriot out of their misery.

Land Rover - has managed to keep its identity and prestige intact even though sales are horrendous. That is a real testament to Ford’s ability to make it a shining star in their now dismembered Premier Auto Group. Land Rover will carry on, now owned by Tata Motors. This is extra incentive for Mahindra to compete head to head with their Indian rival.

By competition, we mean that we are only considering unique brands. Mahindra does not intend to go head to head with Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and Toyota pick ups or SUVs. They hope to carve their own niche with a more exotic and unique vehicle. A heavy duty, mid-sized, luxury, diesel or diesel/hybrid pick up and SUV. This is why we consider the closest comparable brands and vehicles to be: Hummer, Jeep, and Land Rover.

Mahindra will be offering a vehicle that is on par with these premium brands for quality and luxury, but far more rugged and for a much lower price. Picture a Hummer H2T with a diesel, better load and towing capacity, and for less than half base price. Okay, maybe you don’t get the ‘look at me’ value of a Hummer, but if that is a concern for you, you certainly aren’t going to drive a Mahindra anyway.

Cheers to Mahindra and their continuing efforts.

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