Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mahindra to Initially Build Trucks for US in India

Mahindra’s recent decision to delay assembly of the US market pickup truck at a facility in Ohio is certainly a disappointment. It’s easy to understand their decision on several levels. Instability in the US economy being a primary concern, in addition to avoiding any launch delays due to issues with logistics or assembly.

On the other side of that, it seems as though Mahindra would want to do whatever they could to avoid the 25% Chicken Tax the US government will place on every truck made in India and brought here for sale. This also appears as somewhat of a cop out in committing to planting manufacturing infrastructure in US soil. Mahindra has spent considerable time, money, and effort establishing well over 300 dealerships in the US, and ensuring that the trucks will meet all federal requirements for emissions and roadworthiness, as well as extensive customer research.

Mahindra is claiming that the additional tax levied against each truck reaching these shores will not be added to the sales price. It is unclear whether they intend to eat this tax themselves or pass all or a portion of it onto their dealers. Which would clearly not be well received after asking them to commit to building dealerships well in advance of acquiring inventory.

Hopefully, the future is bright for Mahindra’s start in the US. It would be nice to see them get a strong foothold here and in the very near future assemble or completely build vehicles in America with a modern facility and a solid workforce. Mahindra Planet would like to see that 25% go directly into the pockets of US-based employees, rather than go as taxes directly into the government’s bottomless pit and hope it gets passed along to the rest of us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

All New Mahindra SUV for 2010, Pickup on Target for 2009 Launch

Confirmed in a recent interview in India’s Business-Standard, Mahindra & Mahindra Automotive Sector President, Pawan Goenka says Mahindra is still on track for the launch of the Mahindra Pick Up in late 2009 no matter what the world economy currently looks like. Goenka states that, “The downturn is perhaps one of the best times to launch new products as it creates a buzz around it. The current slowdown in the global economy will not deter our launches,”

Goenka also states that an all-new Mahindra SUV, which will replace the current Scorpio, is currently being designed. He expects the new SUV (which he does not specifically call Scorpio) will be on sale in India mid-2010 and will be sold in the US not long after.

Of significant note is that Goenka’s statements allude to the new SUV being a vehicle specifically targeting the US market. Based upon the ‘love it or hate it’ US feedback for the still un-named Mahindra pickup’s styling, one can speculate that the new SUV’s aesthetic would be geared to more of a North American palette.

It can also be surmised from the interview that the new SUV may not be named Scorpio. This could open the door for the pickup to be called Scorpio in the US. Scorpio would be a great name for the rugged and utilitarian pickup truck which is currently called Pik Up in world markets, after it was possibly going to be called Appalachian in the US.

Link to Goenka Interview

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mahindra Xylo to hit US auto market in 2010?

In mid-January Mahindra launched the Xylo MUV in India to compete with the Toyota Innova. The vehicle is a meld of small SUV and large capacity minivan, priced at the equivalent of around USD $12,000. In many ways it’s the updated reincarnation of the conversion van (small recreational vehicle) which was popular with interstate travelers in the 1990’s until the popularity of SUV’s killed off a good portion of the conversion industry.

The Xylo features a 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder, diesel m-Eagle CRDe engine with 112 bhp and a 5-speed manual transmission. Mahindra claims the Xylo will crawl from 0 to 40 mph in 5.8 seconds. Fuel economy numbers are unpublished, but it can be assumed that they will be decent for a 4000 pound vehicle with an efficient diesel engine that can carry 7-8 passengers. Also consider that the Xylo would be a likely candidate for Mahindra’s fast developing hybrid technology in the near future, giving it even better range and fuel economy. With ever increasing air travel and fossil fuel costs, the Xylo could be the Family Truckster for the 21st century: A vehicle capable of carrying the entire family across the country in relative comfort and for reasonable cost.

From an interview in India’s Business-Standard, President of Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra, Pawan Goenka, states that 20% of Xylo sales will be in export markets outside of India. It does seem unlikely that the Xylo will actually be imported to the US due to its lack of power, availability of an automatic transmission, and homely styling, but it is a fantastic look into the corporate vision Mahindra has for itself the world market.

Mahindra may be onto something. As with the very niche pick up truck they have committed to bringing into the States late this year, this could be another interesting small market vehicle for the brand. You may not get the status or styling of an Escalade Hybrid, but you will certainly get a decent level of comfort and better fuel economy for far less cash.