Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dakar and Mahindra

The 2010 Dakar Rally begins tomorrow, January 1st. The 32nd running of the Dakar will lead off-road competitors from around the world through 14 grueling stages and 5,600 treacherous miles of asphalt, sand, and gravel in the short span of 17 days. This year’s event will cover some of the toughest roads and trails in Argentina and Chile. Volkswagen hopes to dominate with their 300hp TDI powered Race Touareg rally trucks as they did in 2009 and even have an American (Mark Miller) driving one of them. Worth following: Dakar Rally 2010

Anticipation of the 2010 Dakar led me to reflect on the 2009 running of the Rally Dos Sertoes. Rally dos Sertoes is a Brazilian adventure rally regarded by some as the second toughest stage rally in the world behind the Dakar. Last June and July the 2009 Rally dos Sertoes saw 128 competitors navigate 3,100 miles of varied Brazilian terrain from jungle to plains with multiple water crossings mixed in between.

Unique to the 2009 Rally dos Sertoes was the participation of a Mahindra truck privateer effort. The non-factory supported effort was lead by veteran rally driver Ricardo Augusto de Souza Campos (better known as Rasc), and sponsored by Brazilian Mahindra dealer Mahindra-Govesa and Mahindra by Bramont (the Brazilian manufacturer of Mahindra products).

Mahindra-Govesa and Rasc prepared a Mahindra Scorpio pickup (equivalent to the TR20 the US will be getting) for the competitive T2 class for stock production cars and trucks. Class rules require the mostly stock vehicles to be equipped with an FIA legal roll cage, some chassis reinforcement, rally seats/harnesses, and a safety fuel cell. With much surprise, Rasc along with his son (Rasquinho), finished the rally third in class, bettering 65 other vehicles from Ford, Chevy, and Toyota. The Mahindra was 1 of only 29 vehicles in the class who finished the demanding rally.

For a great video summary of the rally and highlights of the Mahindra effort, click on the link to the well done video. Mahindra at Rally dos Sertoes

The Mahindra pickup makes a pretty sweet looking race truck, and it certainly got the job done. There is no Mahindra competing in the 2010 Dakar, but maybe we will see more of Mahindra in international off-road racing in the future. If we are lucky, maybe we will even see a Mahindra pickup prepared for the Baja 1000 next November.

Here’s to a great 2010, and good luck to all the brave souls racing the Dakar and all international off-road racing!

Sources: As Hyperlinked

New Virginia Dealer: Mahindra of Harrisonburg

Mahindra Planet has added Mahindra of Harrisonburg to our Dealer Directory. Mahindra of Harrisonburg has the exclusive territory of 6 counties in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Mahindra of Harrisonburg will be the only Mahindra dealer within a 200-250 mile radius.

Mahindra of Harrisonburg’s Jeff Wetherell tells Mahindra Planet:

“Located in the Shenandoah Valley, the heart of Virginia, is Mahindra of Harrisonburg which is in the process of converting the current independent dealership there into a franchise. Currently operating as South Main Motors, Inc. with the website, we will soon be on the web when we go live after the first of the year.”

Mahindra Planet welcomes Mahindra of Harrisonburg.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Breaking: Mahindra Dealer Update Video!

UPDATE 24-DEC-2009: Unfortunately, not long after the Mahindra dealer video link leaked out, GV-USA disabled it. Probably the fastest movement by GV-USA we've ever seen. We have no idea why it was pulled, because Mahindra Planet feels this was a great piece of communication not only to the dealers, but to fans of the brand. Our summary is below, and we also recommend going to for Mike Levine's post: More info as we get it...

“I know this has been a test of your patience and also mine…” John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles USA Inc.

A link to a dealer video was submitted in our comments section today by an anonymous source. The link appears to be for dealer-eyes only, but it sure seems to go a long way in placating rabid Mahindra truck fans.

Here is the link:

A few details of the video include:
- The vehicles will be here in the middle of spring.
- Dealers will be contacted directly by GV-USA on a weekly basis beginning in January
- GV-USA promises 24-hour turnaround on parts supply
- All US certification will be complete by the end of January

Source: Thank You, Anonymous!

Yet Another Saab Story: Mahindra Buying Spree

Months ago Mahindra announced a strategic partnership with Navistar, International Truck and Engine Corporation, to build India-specific heavy trucks powered by India-built MaxxForce engines. In November, Mahindra announced a joint venture with BAE to build military vehicles in India. Not that long ago, Mahindra announced they were going to pursue the Indian two-wheeled market beyond scooters and begin building motorcycles. Recently, Mahindra has been in talks with Boeing and Airbus about supplying aviation components, and last week Mahindra bought two Australian aerospace companies. This week, Mahindra released news of a joint venture with Chinese tractor manufacturer Yueda.

Where will it stop? The speculation about Mahindra buying the rotting corpse of Saab from fallen automotive giant GM still looms large.

Last week, Twitter users who follow Anand Mahindra noticed an odd Tweet (well, a Re-Tweet actually) about Mahindra in position to buy Saab. Far-fetched for sure, but it was certainly interesting that Mahindra took the time to read and Re-Tweet (RT) the sentiment. It appeared as follows:

@AnandMahindra: RT @anishkurien: GM winding up Saab good chance for M&M to
take over an international brand at a bargain./Well wht do u think of d

Mahindra did not publicly respond to the question, but it is pretty interesting that he did put it out there for the Twitter universe to see.

Mahindra & Mahindra have been on a global buying/partnering spree in the past year. And over the last three years, Mahindra has shown a great deal of interest in buying several international automotive enterprises including Hummer, Land Rover, Bertone (the Italian auto design house), and most recently one of Fiat’s factories in Italy.

When GM announced the sale of Saab in November, speculation of Mahindra’s interest first surfaced. Could Mahindra step in at the last minute and soak up the Saab gravy at a bargain basement sale price?

Sources: As Hyperlinked

New VP of Sales and Marketing at Global Vehicles While Delays Remain Likely

Dan T. Najour has been named executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mahindra importer, Global Vehicles USA. Najour replaces Larry Daniel in the senior vice president position and brings with him 30 years of automotive sales experience to the GV-USA organization.

It is unclear what circumstances lead to the replacement of Daniel. However, GV-USA and Mahindra are said to still be working toward an eventual 2010 launch. Rumors lead us to believe that US-bound Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups will be manufactured in India beginning in January 2010 with a soft launch (key markets first) expected in February of 2010. However, some dealers are stating that they expect trucks in mid-May 2010.

NHTSA and EPA approval of the vehicles is still unknown. In a mid-November interview, GV-USA spokesman, Mike Geylin stated that NHTSA and EPA approval had not yet been given for the new-to-the-USA vehicles, but were expected sometime in the first quarter of 2010. Specific dates were not given.

The timing of several elements will have to fall perfectly into place for a February rollout. Details of the Mahindra dealer network throughout the US have yet to be announced or confirmed, US government vehicle approvals are unknown, and marketing has been non-existent. Hopefully it all comes together and we can get some first impressions of the TR pickups early this spring. It’s likely to be a very busy Holiday season for GV-USA.

Sources:,, MahindraTruckBlog, MahindraTruckForum

Special Thanks: Joe Callimachus and Pee Wee at MahindraTruckForum

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What the MUC? The US Gets a Version of the Mahindra Xylo in 2012

If you have explored around the Mahindra North America website, you have probably seen the “Future Vehicle” tab containing a highly stylized image of a vehicle and the tagline stating “MUC Expected US Landing 2012”. No further description is given, so Mahindra Planet will lay down some speculation:

Most likely, the vehicle shown and referred to as MUC is an iteration of the Mahindra Xylo. The Xylo was launched in India in January of 2009. It was originally designed to be a high capacity people mover for domestic and world markets. The design is body-on-frame like the TR20/TR40 and Scorpio SUV. It is currently equipped with a diesel 4-cylinder engine like other Mahindra trucks. For more info on the Xylo click here: Mahindra Xylo Coming to America?

Since the release of the Xylo last winter, the rumor has been that this vehicle will reach US shores in some form. The Xylo was designed from the start with intentions to be a world-market vehicle. It is likely that the MUC is some derivative of the Xylo platform.

Several sketches and renderings of Xylo variations have been circulating the web for quite a while. Interestingly, most have shown some type of pickup truck version. Looking closely at the image on Mahindra’s website, it’s easy to make out the shape of an integrated body/cab pickup version of the Xylo. Kind of a Mahindra version of a Chevrolet Avalanche.

The Xylo platform was designed at birth to handle either Mahindra’s diesel engine or hybrid powertrain. The version coming to the US could very well contain the hybrid system exclusively.

Maybe the most important aspect of the teaser is that Mahindra is looking forward and already planning future product for the US market. This is positive reinforcement of Mahindra’s long term commitment.

Source:, and (lots of good Xylo links and photos)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mahindra Mods: A Scorpio Off-Roader

If you have been following Mahindra Planet or Mahindra’s entry into the US truck market for a while, you have undoubtedly seen pictures of Kishan Lohiya’s heavily reworked Mahindra Scorpio. However, you may not have read any details or seen any photos of the build.

The truck started out as a standard India-market Mahindra Scorpio. After considerable imagination and fabrication, Lohiya created a pretty sweet looking rally-style off-road truck. It doesn’t appear that he has modified the powertrain or suspension in any significant way. Instead he is relying on the stock ruggedness of the Scorpio SUV for off-road use.

The photos here are just a sampling. For more photos and the story of the truck in Lohiya’s own words, hit this link to:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mahindra USA Gets New Assembly Facility

Mahindra USA (i.e. the tractor side of Mahindra’s operations in the US) has announced the consolidation of their Texas operations and the relocation of their assembly and distribution point from Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It’s unlikely that this activity has much to do with Mahindra’s light truck operations in the US. However, Mahindra now has a tractor assembly facility available in Georgia, maybe Mahindra truck assembly could fit right in…

The press release may be found: Here

Source: Business Wire

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anand Mahindra Interview: India, The Next Gorilla

Forbes posted a great article with Anand Mahindra last week. Mahindra discusses India’s economic relationship with the United States and how they compare with China.

Mahindra also addresses timing for the US launch of the TR20 and TR40 pickups during our massive economic recession:

“Sometimes the best time is when everyone is advocating against it. The reality is that we're going in with a compact diesel pickup that gives 30 miles per gallon. There's a space in the market for this new, green product. The erstwhile behemoths of the U.S. auto industry are in the midst of restructuring, so there are good dealerships available. There could be no better time for a challenger.”

To read the rest of the excellent article in its entirety follow the link: Here


Friday, December 4, 2009

Crowd Sourced Marketing

I am in no way picking at the scab that is a certain company’s (lack of) marketing effort for a new vehicle that is set for its US debut in February of 2010. I provide this information as a general interest item following the excitement that the 2011 Ford Fiesta has created at the LA Auto Show this week.

If you haven’t seen the Fiesta or caught any of the buzz around the car, do a quick Google search for it. The car may not be your cup of tea, but the launch and excitement created around it are fantastic and worthy of a few moments of your time.

Not only is the pre-launch hype there, but Ford is actively searching out everyday people who are fans of the Fiesta to (gasp!) help market the car for them.

If you go to the Fiesta website, you will see a letter asking for creative people to put together a team of two and brainstorm marketing and advertising ideas. There will be 20 teams selected to operate in specific parts of the country. Each team will be given a new Ford Fiesta with gas and insurance, and will be partnered with local advertising professionals to create their campaign. Oh, and the team gets a chance to win a new Fiesta when all is said and done.

The crowd-sourced advertising campaign is a great idea. Let the customers who are impassioned with the brand do the hard work for you. In fact, give them all of the tools, information, and resources they need to be extremely successful and spread the word.

I wonder what other company could benefit from this type of grass-roots, viral advertising and marketing. It seems to me that there is a particular company who is new to the US and on the verge of a product launch, and could easily organize an effort of this kind. This is a company who could potentially reap tangible rewards for creating some type of advertising campaign in any form. Who could that be???

Thursday, December 3, 2009

VW Amarok: The Mahindra TR Killer?

UPDATE: published a road test of the Amarok yesterday. US availability is highly unlikely. The article with great photos is: Here

As reported by this week, VW is set for the world debut of their163hp/295ft-lb, 2.0 liter, common-rail injected, diesel-powered Amarok compact pickup on December 15th.

Currently there are no plans to introduce the Amarok to the United States. That said, reading the Amarok specs and feature list is like reading the Mahindra TR brochure. This is a heavy duty little diesel pickup with lots of luxury features!

Towing capacity for the Amarok is 5,600 pounds, and max payload is 2,300 pounds. Slightly less than the claimed 2,400-2,700 pound payload that Mahindra is claiming for the TR20 and TR40 pickups.

If VW decides to bring this truck to the US, Mahindra had better be watching their backs.

Photos and Source: