News over the weekend of Mahindra’s possible naming convention for its North American line of pickups came as a bit of a shock.
For a company who has set its sites on the lofty target of Land Rover, the TR20 and TR40 names for the 2-door and 4-door versions of the pickup seem like a cop out. Mahindra’s rival, Tata Motors, has managed a seamless transition of the Land Rover brand from Ford to their India-based company. Ford took the rugged off-road foundation Land Rover had built over many decades and elevated it to the epitome of luxury SUV’s.
Mahindra wants their trucks to be considered in the same vein as Land Rover, but they seem to be off to a slow start in some respects. It’s well known that Mahindra has spent considerable effort to ensure the quality of the pickups will more than satisfy US customers, which is fantastic. However, the styling of the pickup is controversial to say the least. A lame alpha-numeric designation like TR20 or TR40 does not produce visions of safaris in the Serengeti, or crawling the Rubicon. Frankly, TR20 creates visions of mowing the lawn or trimming hedges.
These seem like nonsense names, better suited to a lawn tractor or a weed whacker. We can assume that the TR somehow stands for truck. Certainly imaginative Americans will come up with a more creative interpretation for these initials.
With the exception of Ford, every other pickup truck sold in the US has a name, or a combination of name and numeric designation that stands for its intended carrying capacity. Ford relies purely on the ‘F’ designation and a number signifying capacity (i.e. F-150 = Ford half-ton pickup). They can do this because they have a massive history and changing this designation would be considered heresy to Ford fanatics. You don’t want to upset the faithful.
Mahindra needs to look long and hard at how they intend to portray this truck now and into the future. If they intend to be a long term player in the US market, now is the time to create a legacy for the brand. Do they want to be seen as a high-end SUV maker, or a rugged and earthy truck manufacturer? Either way Mahindra should select a name, or chose a letter/number designation that means something useful. If you tell someone you proudly own a Mahindra Appalachian 2500, it tells a story. If you tell someone you own a Mahindra TR20, will that person ask what size mowing deck it has?
You can do better, Mahindra.