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 Fuel economy numbers are unpublished, but it can be assumed that they will be decent for a 4000 pound vehicle with an efficient diesel engine that can carry 7-8 passengers.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.

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