Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mahindra to Launch All-New Pickup in 2011

“We are working on a lot of models. There will be a pick up on a completely new platform,” said Arun Malhotra, senior vice-president (sales and customer care, Mahindra & Mahindra). “We plan to bring it in the second of 2011. It will be positioned near the top-end of our commercial vehicle pickup range, with a payload capability of above 1 tonne.”

Livemint.com confirms that Mahindra plans to launch an new 1.2 ton capacity pickup truck in the second quarter of 2011 for the Indian domestic market.  The description of the new pickup leads Mahindra Planet to believe that this is the pickup version of the much rumored second generation Scorpio SUV.

The latest information confirms that this is indeed a separate model and launch from the anticipated W201 'World SUV'.  The load capacity of the new truck is nearly identical to that of the current generation Scorpio-based Getaway/TR20/TR40 pickups whose launch has been delayed in the United States several times over the last 2 years.

While it is still unclear how or when Mahindra will resolve it's ongoing dispute with it's US import and distribution partner, Global Vehicles USA, it is clear that they have an all new pickup nearly ready for production.  One can assume that Mahindra's global sales aspirations have led them to develop the new pickup for multiple markets including the US.

As details of the new pickup emerge, Mahindra Planet will get it posted up as we get it.

Source: Livemint.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Breaking: Mahindra Kills Deal to Build Reva Electric Cars in US

A short while ago, Syracuse.com published then retracted a story providing details of US-based company, Bannon Automotive LLC, filing a lawsuit on Monday against Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicle Co. and it's parent company, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (M&M).

Bannon Automotive (of Long Island, NY) has been working directly with Reva, the state of New York, and Onondaga County since late 2009 to establish a vehicle assembly plant in the Syracuse, New York area.  The facility was to build US-market Reva electric cars from India-made parts kits, but it appears that those plans are on now hold indefinitely.

Reasons for the collapse of the Bannon/Reva deal read like a page straight out of Mahindra's dealings with their US truck importer and partner, Global Vehicles USA (GV).  In June, GV filed a lawsuit against M&M claiming that they were purposely delaying EPA certification efforts to prepare a compact diesel pickup truck for launch in the US market.  The lawsuit also asserted that Mahindra was effectively attempting to force an end to the exclusive import and distribution contract both companies had originally negotiated in 2006.  It has been widely speculated that Mahindra decided that they were no longer interested in using a US partner to distribute the pickups, and were attempting to negotiate directly with dealerships established by GV.

Bannon Automotive's lawsuit accuses Mahindra of breaking agreements to give Bannon an exclusive license to assemble and sell Reva cars in the United States.

From the Syracuse.com article:
"This material change in the representations made by Reva and Mahindra signaled the death of Bannon Automotive", Bannon said in the lawsuit filed in Nassau County, where Bannon is based.
"Unfortunately, Mahindra/Reva did not deliver as promised," Bannon Chief Fiscal Officer Jordan Levy told the Post-Standard (Syracuse.com) by email Wednesday.  "Accordingly, Bannon and its investors have been compelled to take legal action.  Bannon will continue try and follow through with the project as planned.  We remain committed to bringing an affordable, US manufactured electric vehicle to the American marketplace."
The lawsuit seeks to force Reva to give Bannon a license to make the Reva vehicle for the US market and to bar Reva from granting a license to anyone other than Bannon to manufacture and market Reva cars in the United States.
Apparently Mahindra has been using the same playbook to coordinate their strategies with Bannon and GV.  Bannon goes on to state that Mahindra had repeatedly delayed signing a definitive licensing agreement after their majority stake takeover of Reva in May.  Bannon claims that Mahindra told them via email in August that they would not have a vehicle ready for them to sell in the US.  Bannon claims that the August email was the last communication they have received from Mahindra.

Mahindra Planet will continue to follow the story.  Please go to Syracuse.com for more.
Updated 7:15AM 23-Dec-2010: The Syracuse.com link is now live again: Electric Car Project for Onondaga County Collapses

Source: http://www.syracuse.com/

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mahindra’s Jeep Returns to India

Been longing for a bare bones Jeep CJ with a diesel power plant? Well, you’ll have to keep waiting (for Mahindra trucks period), but India is getting it in the Mahindra Thar this week.
The Thar is probably one of the most literally retro vehicles offered anywhere in the world. Where reincarnated American pony cars like the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger take styling cues from their forty-year-old ancestors and package them in a completely modern design, the Mahindra Thar is old school all the way.

For the rupee equivalent of around USD $11,000 – $13,500, you get what is effectively a CJ7 body sitting on a shortened Scorpio/TR chassis. The Thar gets Mahindra’s 2.5L CRDe (4-cylinder diesel) with a manual transmission and a pushbutton 2-speed transfer case. Basically, it is the latest evolution of the Jeeps that Mahindra built under license in India for decades. Since the Thar has previously been available in European markets, it was probably a pretty easy move to begin making some specifically for the Indian off-road market.

While US Jeeps continue to get softer and softer every year, it’s pretty cool to see that something as basic as the Thar still has a place in the world. Frankly, MP thinks that Mahindra could (should?) successfully bring the Thar into the US, even as an off-road only vehicle. By circumventing the Chicken Tax, you could potentially get a 4x4 Thar for less than what Polaris or Can-Am wants for their trick little UTV’s like the RZR and Commander. Throw a solid axle on the front, and the rock crawling crowd would have a decent starting point for a diesel trail truck.

We won’t get our hopes up, so in the mean time we’ll keep daydreaming about the Icon CJ3B.

The Thar launches in India on December 21st.

Sources: Icon 4x4, MahindraThar.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Second Generation Scorpio to Launch in March 2011

The Indian auto press and Mahindra Planet have been predicting a 2011 launch for a new Mahindra Scorpio SUV since early this year. A well written article by MoneyControl.com seems to confirm that “an all-new Scorpio (is) set for a March 2011 release”.

Rumors have consistently predicted that the second generation Scorpio will retain a rugged body-on-frame construction like that of the current (first generation) Scorpio. Although it is unclear how Mahindra defines “all-new”, one can assume that at least the quality and safety of the SUV will be improved upon while retaining the current generation of efficient 4-cylinder diesel engines.

While sightings of camouflaged Mahindra W201 “world SUV” test mules have been quite common in recent months, it has been rare to hear of first hand encounters with disguised Scorpio test rigs roaming Indian roads. Back in August, Team-BHP forum member ‘Princey’ did happen upon what was possibly a new Scorpio in testing. Unfortunately no photos have been taken of suspected Scorpio test vehicles.

The current Scorpio shares it’s chassis with the perpetually delayed, US-bound Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups. With many US Mahindra followers well aware of a new Scorpio in the works, some have speculated (MP included) that Mahindra was possibly using the current Scorpio-based pickups as test platforms to obtain the required EPA approvals to homologate their mHawk 2.2L diesel engine.

If an all-new platform is just around the corner, it may be possible that Mahindra will not bring the design we currently know as the TR into the United States. Instead, they may feel that their best move is to start fresh with a more evolved pickup built around a proven powertrain.

Disclaimer: Although the MoneyControl.com article refers to the all-new vehicle as a Scorpio, there is no mention of the W201 crossover which is set to launch in 2011 as well. Mahindra is notoriously tightlipped about mentioning details of any future models. There is the possibility that the vehicle mentioned is actually the W201, but Mahindra Planet suspects that is not the case. Time will tell.

Source: MoneyControl.com, IndianAutosBlog.com, Team-BHP.com, and as hyperlinked

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opinion: The Real Reason for Mahindra’s Failure to Launch

Driven home by the official acquisition of Ssangyong this week, my personal feelings on why Mahindra is jacking around on the whole US launch deal revolves around demand in the Indian domestic market and emerging markets at large. Why? Because that is where the money is.

Emerging Markets
Demand in the Indian market started to steadily increase late in 2009. Manufacturers and suppliers started scrambling to keep up last fall. Demand has continued to rise significantly since.

Chew on this for a moment: Which exploding markets are most of the US, Asian, and European auto manufacturers trying to gain a foothold in? India, China, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet states. Many of these markets are set to grow massively for the next several decades as their citizenry gravitate towards the middle class. This is where the money is to be made. Mahindra knows this, and they don’t want to lose any business to foreign brands coming into India if they can help it. Conversely, they definitely want to gain ground in these other evolving countries. This is a major reason why Mahindra bought Ssangyong Motor. Ssangyong’s biggest markets are Russia and Europe. Mahindra now has access to a bunch of Ssangyong’s technology, R&D, and manufacturing facilities, but more importantly they bought themselves an established brand that has some 1,300 dealers in 98 countries of these key markets.

Not to take anything away from any of these other countries or Mahindra themselves, but some of them probably have a slightly different expectation of quality, features, appearance, purpose, etc. in a vehicle. Mahindra, and particularly Ssangyong products, will be perceived differently elsewhere than they are by spoiled American car shoppers.

Worth the Effort?
So why bust your balls passing all of our stringent emissions certifications and safety requirements, and then be forced to pay the 25% chicken tax on every vehicle sold, plus a percentage to Global Vehicles USA (GV), only to potentially sell 30,000 vehicles a year in a crowded and competitive market?

I think that 5 or 6 years ago Mahindra saw the US as THE market to be in for two reasons: 1-the status of claiming to be the first Indian-built/Indian brand in the US. 2-their ego and arrogance led them to believe that the US would be a piece of cake to enter.

Once the reality of the global recession kicked in, the world started looking a lot different. Suddenly the US dollar was worth crap, and traditional auto markets (particularly the US) dried up. Emerging markets have started looking pretty good with a low cost of entry and less competition.

The US is just not the same priority for Mahindra that it was a few years ago. They have been slowly going through the motions, but it’s pretty obvious that Mahindra was hoping to either kill GV financially, or otherwise dissolve the contract with minimal financial loss in order to regroup and attack the US market when it makes better sense.

GV has attempted to order trucks several times. Mahindra claimed each time that GV did not have the finances in place to support the order. In my opinion, those truck orders were rejected purely because Mahindra never intended to build US versions at the time. Since they received federal approvals in August of this year, there has been nothing to hold Mahindra back from building trucks for the US market. If Mahindra honestly didn’t think GV had the financials in place to back up the orders they placed, then why the hell wouldn’t they back it themselves just to get the ball rolling? Especially since Mahindra so confident about their success in the US market.

Whether they like it or not, in the US, Mahindra has a legal obligation to satisfy GV and the dealers they represent. The US has many laws in place to protect dealers (GV is also technically a dealer) from unfair practices by manufacturers. Mahindra can fight this and probably buy themselves some time, but the odds are against them (in the US at least). Eventually Mahindra will have to make good with either compensation or product as promised (or re-negotiated).

US Outlook is Still Positive
Mixed in with the headlining news of the Ssangyong acquisition, there is positive speculation that completing this deal will open the door to a revitalized effort to enter the US market.

Mahindra is already making plans to quickly introduce new models as a result of the takeover as early as next year. Mahindra instantly becomes a much larger global player, and has more development and technology resources. Reports are claiming that Mahindra has the cash on hand to complete the Ssangyong deal, and even Ssangyong has been making money this year. It may not be too much to expect that the US target will now loom much larger in Mahindra’s sights. Let’s hope so.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mahindra to Expand US Business after Ssangyong Acquisition

IndianExpress.com is reporting this morning that an undisclosed “senior official” from Mahindra’s Finance and Strategic Development Department has informed them that the US pickup and SUV market is in Mahindra’s crosshairs after the Ssangyong takeover is complete.

Due diligence and planning for the acquisition of the bankrupt South Korean automaker, Ssangyong Motor, began earlier this summer and is projected to be complete by March of 2011, with Mahindra-Ssangyong vehicles being launched in India shortly after.

"We have entered into an agreement with the ailing Ssangyong Motor in August to acquire a majority stake in the South Korean SUV-maker to expand our business in international markets. We are looking at entering the US market, once the deal is through," the article quotes the anonymous Mahindra official.

The official goes on to restate the obvious, "When the global presence of Mahindra and Ssangyong is combined, jointly we will be able to achieve more success in the global market."

No other sources are currently verifying these statements, but they do correspond with speculation provided by the president of Mahindra’s punching bag/US distributor, Global Vehicles USA. John Perez claimed in a letter to customers two weeks ago that Mahindra pickups will be available in the US sometime in the spring. The saga continues.

Source: IndianExpress.com, CarTradeIndia.com, PickupTrucks.com

Thursday, November 11, 2010

GV Press Release: GV to Protect 8,300 Potential US Jobs

This just in from US Mahindra truck importer, Global Vehicles USA:

Global Vehicles Takes Steps to Protect 8,300 Potential U.S. Jobs

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Nov. 11, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Global Vehicles USA, Inc., announced today that it will be taking new steps to protect more than 8,300 potential U.S. jobs associated with the launch of Mahindra pickup trucks in the United States, including requesting that the states of Florida and Georgia hold administrative hearings to determine whether Mumbai, India-based Mahindra & Mahindra and its local employees are violating state motor vehicle franchise laws.

Global Vehicles has been the exclusive U.S. distributor of Mahindra vehicles since 2006, and the company has recruited a network of 347 dealers who are prepared to sell Mahindra pickups immediately, now that they have passed federal certification tests.

Mahindra threw the launch plans into disarray this summer by attempting to arbitrarily remove Global Vehicles as its distributor, and by suggesting through a spokesman that it may do business in the future with some dealers but not all of them.

Earlier this year, Mahindra said the launch was on-track for late 2010. Now the company refuses to commit to a launch date.

"We are ready to sell trucks, and that remains our goal," said John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles. "By our calculation, Mahindra's delays and disruptions are putting more than 8,300 potential jobs at risk at our dealers, at the ports, in the trucking industry and throughout the supply base."

According to Perez, these figures count only the employment associated with the launch phase. The long-term jobs outlook is even greater because the U.S. economy is recovering, and consumers want a 30-mile-per-gallon compact truck that can haul as much as a heavy-duty pickup.

"Global Vehicle's dealers are experienced and well capitalized, and have access to more than $1 billion in credit facilities to support their facilities, order vehicles and deliver outstanding customer service," Perez said. "We believe first-year sales could reach 30,000 units, worth $750 million."

Global Vehicles has asked the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles for hearings to determine whether Mahindra is violating state franchise laws by acting in bad faith with Global Vehicles and its dealers, who together have invested more than $100 million to bring Mahindra trucks to the United States.

Global Vehicles also has invoked the arbitration clause in its contract with Mahindra, and sued Mahindra in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, to protect its contractual rights. Both cases are pending.

Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc., based in Alpharetta, Ga., is the exclusive importer and distributor in the United States of motor vehicles produced by the automotive arm of the Mahindra Group (www.mahindra.com), a $6 billion-plus diverse conglomerate.

SOURCE Global Vehicles USA, Inc

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mahindra to Build Vehicle Plant in TN, Not the TN You Are Thinking

Indian news outlets are reporting this morning that Mahindra & Mahindra has made an agreement with the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to acquire 400 acres of land to build a new vehicle manufacturing plant to keep up with increasing domestic demand.

It is unclear which product line(s) will be built at the new facility, but it is expected that Mahindra’s total annual vehicle output in Tamil Nadu will increase from 1.3 million to 1.4 million once the plant is up and running. The new plant will be located somewhere near the city of Chennai which is home to many other Mahindra operations. Chennai is the auto manufacturing hub of India.

Reports indicate that the new factory is intended to increase domestic supply of vehicles for India. Mahindra fans in the US will be hopeful that the facility, and increased capacity, will lead to the fulfillment of John Perez’s bold statements made in an email sent to waiting Mahindra truck buyers last week which said “While I cannot give you a firm answer on timing, I can tell you in my estimation, trucks will arrive in the spring of 2011.”

Sources: PickupTrucks.com, Automotive World

Thursday, November 4, 2010

W201: The Card Hidden Up Mahindra’s Sleeve

Rumors and renderings of Mahindra’s all-new “world SUV”, codenamed W201, have floated to the surface time and again throughout 2010. Educated guesses, eye-witness accounts, and complete speculation give us a decent overall understanding of the unnamed SUV/crossover despite Mahindra’s official policy to not comment on rumors about new or upcoming models (apparently they employ a similar policy regarding timelines and vehicles destined for the US market, but that is another story). As the rumored 2011 launch (2012 for US?) of the W201 approaches, here are some updates and further speculation served up for your reading pleasure:

Originally thought to be an upgraded replacement for the Scorpio SUV (the body-on-frame sibling of the US-bound Mahindra TR20 and TR40 small diesel pickups), it’s become clear that the larger W201 crossover will be a far more luxurious step above the relatively primitive (by US standards) Scorpio/TR.

The W201 is clearly a project intended to not only extend Mahindra’s global vehicle market reach, but to also stretch Mahindra’s design, engineering, and production expertise. With its unitized construction and apparently transverse engine layout, the W201 represents a significant departure from the last forty years Mahindra has spent slowly evolving the basic body-on-frame construction of the first Jeeps they were licensed to build in India. The last significant technological leap for Mahindra since adding a diesel tractor engine to the Jeep in the 1970’s, was the design of the current Scorpio platform in 2002. It’s obviously time for Mahindra to take their game to a new level.

It’s likely that Mahindra’s familiar longitudinal engine layout with a conventional transmission and part time 4WD transfer case will be dumped in favor of a more compact transverse engine layout favoring a front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive configuration for the W201. Mahindra is currently in the process of taking over bankrupt South Korean car maker, Ssangyong Motor. This acquisition should give Mahindra access to further expertise in unitized body design and manufacturing, as well as access to Ssangyong’s gasoline and diesel engine designs. Combine this with Mahindra’s recent acquisition of pure-electric car manufacturer, Reva, and a variety of gasoline, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrains may eventually be offered in the W201.

In the spirit of Mahindra’s cloak and dagger operations involving the W201, heavily disguised test mules have been spotted several times on Indian roads. Sharp-eyed car guys including our friends at Indian Autos Blog have taken photos of the pre-production SUV, and artists have rendered images of what the undisguised SUV may look like. Photos and renderings reveal the W201’s exterior styling to be somewhere between a Nissan Murano and a Pathfinder which was left in the oven too long. It may not be beautiful, but all around it’s a much more modern look than that of the TR20 and TR40 which seem to pay homage to Japanese pickups of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Some lucky civilians have gotten up close to the mules and at least one has even had some limited drive time in the W201. The interior has been described as a giant leap forward for Mahindra, but still not likely up to the high expectations of American consumers. Certainly this is something which could be fixed before production begins. Witnesses state that the W201 is loaded safety features commonly found on US-market vehicles such as a complement of air bags, traction control, and stability control. Mules have been observed with 6-speed manual transmissions, but it’s a given that automatic versions are a must for US sales of this type of vehicle.

To continue roasting the same old US launch delay chestnut, it remains to be seen where the W201 fits in with Mahindra’s master plan (or lack of plan) to launch the current generation TR20 and TR40 pickups in the US. The W201 is almost on a different planet than the rough around the edges Scorpio-based pickups. Adding fuel to the fire of controversy is Mahindra’s development of a next generation Scorpio platform also due to launch in 2011. Time will tell what their plan is for sure. In the mean time, we’ll keep on speculating.

Source: IndianAutosBlog, Team BHP, BurnYourFuel

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mahindra Delay Excuses Don't Set Well With Importer

Mahindra importer, Global Vehicles USA (GV), has quickly responded to Mahindra’s statements that the US launch of their India-built line of compact diesel pickup trucks has been delayed indefinitely due to ongoing conflict with the Georgia-based company.

“Mahindra is legally – and morally – obligated to conduct business as usual” – John Perez, CEO, Global Vehicles

Perez refers to an arbitration clause which was part of the original contract between Global Vehicles and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd to establish GV as the exclusive distributor of Mahindra vehicles in the United States. The contract between the two parties expired on June 11, 2010. On that same day, GV invoked an arbitration clause placed in the distributor agreement. That clause requires both companies to conduct ‘business as usual’ in order to fulfill their commitment in supplying Mahindra pickups to nearly 350 dealers which have been waiting over 2 years for products to sell.

While engaged in a federal lawsuit filed against them by GV and the binding arbitration process being conducted in the UK, Mahindra continues to publicly dismiss GV as exclusive distributor of their vehicles, and now are blaming further delays on these actions.

"Any suggestion that the arbitration process or the federal lawsuit we were forced to file to protect our rights are responsible for the delay in bringing trucks to the United States is patently not true. If Mahindra's trucks are ready to sell, they should continue performing their obligations under the distributor agreement just like we have. If dealers start to doubt Mahindra's integrity, they don't stand a chance of earning the trust of American consumers." – John Perez

Source: Global Vehicles via PRNewsWire

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mahindra v. Tata: What Statement Does the Donation Battle Make?

Has anyone been following the charitable donation battle between Anand Mahindra and Ratan Tata? In a nutshell, Mahindra donated USD $10 million to Harvard a couple of weeks ago to secure the re-naming of a humanities center to The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. To up the ante, Ratan Tata (Mahindra’s biggest Indian automotive rival and owner of Jaguar and Land Rover) recently donated USD $50 million to the Harvard Business School for a new building to be named Tata Hall.

It’s understandable that both of these incredibly successful Indian businessmen want to give back to their Alma Mater (and satisfy their equally incredible egos), but it also stirs controversy in India. Just when you think the divide between the haves and the have-nots in America is getting bigger every day; we’ve got nothing on India. So, what’s to be gained by donating millions of dollars to a foreign university (that isn’t exactly cash-strapped to begin with) while millions of your fellow countrymen live in utter poverty?

Is it all about image? Do these charitable acts give credence to those who have suspected all along that Mahindra (and possibly Tata) only wants to sell vehicles in the US to gloat about the achievement and fluff up their status as an Indian international success story just to sell more cars at home?

It’s my sincere hope that both of these men make far more charitable contributions to those in need than these very public donations to a wealthy American institution portray. I personally believe there is a bigger statement to be made by taking a more stealthy approach to giving, but hey, the Salvation Army probably isn’t going to let me re-name one of their second-hand stores no matter how many lightly used slacks I donate. Personal satisfaction, warm feelings, and good karma be damned, they should at least paint my name on the side of a Red Kettle come Christmas time. Anonymous gifting is so overrated.

So are these multi-million dollar Harvard donations simply a good deed, or just good business?

Sources: Stuff Rich People Love, The Wall Street Journal, All Headline News

Monday, October 18, 2010

December Mahindra Launch Date Is Now “No Date”

PickupTrucks.com is reporting this morning via AP reports that Mahindra is no longer stating that a thrice delayed US launch date of December 2010 is expected for their India-made small diesel pickup trucks.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd’s vice chairman and managing director, Anand Mahindra, told an interviewer that “we’re still interested in getting into the US”. However, he went on to say that “we don’t want to turn this into a war of words” regarding a very public legal and PR battle over distribution of the pickups with US importer Global Vehicles USA (GV).

GV has maintained that they intend to move forward with introducing and launching the vehicles in US despite Mahindra’s continued statements that they have terminated their contract with GV and no longer regard them as a business partner. GV went so far as to officially place an order for $35 million of TR20 and TR40 pickups with Mahindra on September 24th only to have it rejected a few days later.

The Mahindra soap opera continues.
Source: PickupTrucks.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Revisited: US Mahindra Road Tests

As the Global Vehicles versus Mahindra battle for control of the distribution of Mahindra TR20 and TR40 diesel pickups continues behind closed doors (it’s been a whole week since the last press release salvo), one begins to wonder what the fuss is all about.

Very little is still known about the actual US versions of the India-made Mahindra pickups. We do know that they will base at around USD $22,000, get around 30mpg with a 4-cylinder diesel engine, and carry over one ton of payload. What’s still missing is a genuine US driving impression on American roads in the hands of American drivers.

Fortunately, PickupTrucks.com journalist, Mike Levine, and Motorcars Mahindra dealer Jay Keffer have both driven non-US export versions of the trucks on US soil. Although neither impression is a true reflection of the trucks we will be driving (some day), both drivers came away more impressed with the trucks than even they thought they would…
PickupTrucks.com: Mahindra Test Drive on US Soil!
US Mahindra Test Drive Interview, Part I: First Impressions
US Mahindra Test Drive Interview, Part II: Power, Style, and a Great Offer

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GV Responds to Rejection of Mahindra Pickup Order

From the press release issued yesterday:

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Indian company Mahindra and Mahindra has improperly rejected a valid $35 million-plus factory order placed on Sept. 24 for U.S.-spec Mahindra pickup trucks, exclusive U.S. distributor Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc. confirmed today.

"Global Vehicles and its dealers remain willing, ready and able to begin the sale of Mahindra vehicles as soon as they can be delivered," said Global Vehicles CEO John Perez. "We placed this substantial order in good faith because we want to get down to business and so do our dealers."

Mahindra issued a statement in India yesterday confirming that it rejected the order. But the company has not explained its motives for breaking the contract, especially its arbitration clause.

"Our contract with Mahindra requires disputes to be taken to arbitration and both parties are obligated to conduct 'business as usual' until there is a ruling," said Perez. "We initiated arbitration before Mahindra claims the contract expired and they should not disrespect the process and break the law by continuing to act in bad faith."

In addition to initiating arbitration, Global Vehicles is pursuing claims against Mahindra in U.S. Federal District Court to protect is contractual rights.

"We're grateful that this country has strong contract laws and statutes that protect big car companies from steamrolling their dealers and distributors," Perez said. "We're confident in our position because it's simple and it's the truth, and we look forward to hearing Mahindra's sworn testimony."

Global Vehicles believes that Mahindra purposely delayed the EPA certification process so it could invoke a contract clause that would allow it to walk away if the trucks could not be certified for sale in the United States. Global Vehicles extended the deadline for certification three times, with the latest deadline set at June 11, 2010.

Mahindra submitted its certification paperwork to the EPA about 10 days after the June 11 deadline, and announced in an Aug. 20 press release that its vehicles were certified for sale.

Mahindra demanded the clause at the eleventh hour before the contract was signed in 2006 because it expressly wanted to limit its losses if the trucks could not be certified for sale here. Earlier this year, well before the June deadline, Global Vehicles asked Mahindra to remove the clause because it was no longer applicable and they refused. Global Vehicles later asked Mahindra for another extension but was again refused.

Together, Global Vehicles and the nearly 350 Mahindra dealers it recruited in 49 states have invested almost $100 million to bring the rugged, affordable and fuel-efficient trucks to the United States.

Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc., based in Alpharetta, Ga., is the exclusive importer and distributor in the United States of motor vehicles produced by the automotive arm of the Mahindra Group (www.mahindra.com), a $6 billion-plus diverse conglomerate.

SOURCE Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mahindra Rejects $35 Million GV Pickup Order

A press release this morning indicates that Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has rejected a USD $35 million order for the Indian made Mahindra compact diesel pickup trucks placed by its US importer and business partner, Global Vehicles USA.

The release goes on to state:

“Mahindra views this order as another example of Global Vehicles' policy of engaging in PR theatrics while pursuing an unnecessary lawsuit. This is Global Vehicles' continued attempt to manipulate the press to damage Mahindra's reputation. Mahindra also believes that this is an attempt by Global Vehicles to distract Mahindra from pursuing other plans to bring its vehicle to the US market.”

To read the entire press release, click here: Mahindra Rejects any attempt by Global Vehicles to order Mahindra vehicles as it is Invalid

Source: Mahindra

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breaking: Global Vehicles Order, Mahindra Pickups Here Within 8 Months

This press release just in from Global Vehicles:

For Release: Sept. 24, 8 a.m. Eastern

Contact: Jim Cain
The Quell Group

Global Vehicles to Place $35 Million Order to Support U.S. Launch of Mahindra Pickup Trucks

o Nearly $100 million investment by importer Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc. and close to 350 Mahindra dealers rides on a successful launch
o Global Vehicles expects sales could reach $1.4 billion annually in four years
o Initial orders will be delivered to dealers in the Southeast, followed by other regions over the next eight months
o First-year sales volume could reach 30,000 units

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Sept. 24, 2010 – A $35 million-plus factory order will be placed today for U.S.-spec Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickup trucks to begin the launch of the brand in the United States, exclusive Mahindra importer Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc. announced.

Together, Global Vehicles and the nearly 350 Mahindra dealers it recruited in 49 states have invested almost $100 million to bring the rugged, affordable and fuel efficient trucks to the United States. Mahindra said in an August press release that it had EPA certification to sell the trucks, and they announced plans to begin selling vehicles in December.

“We are proud of the sales and service network we created to support the launch of Mahindra vehicles, and we look forward to bringing American buyers something truly unique in the marketplace – rugged, high-quality, clean diesel pickup trucks that can achieve nearly 30 miles per gallon,” said John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles. “Our dealers are all seasoned auto industry professionals who will treat customers with honesty, integrity and respect. We built our business on these bedrock principles, which should be the foundation of every business relationship.”

Perez expressed confidence that Global Vehicles will prevail in pending arbitration hearings and court proceedings that the company initiated to force Mahindra to honor the terms of Global Vehicle’s distribution contract, which Mahindra inaccurately claims is no longer in force.

Global Vehicles believes that Mahindra purposely delayed the EPA certification process so it could invoke a contract clause that would allow it to walk away if the truck could not be certified for sale in the United States. Global Vehicles extended the deadline for certification three times, with the latest deadline set at June 11, 2010.

Mahindra submitted its certification paperwork to the EPA about 10 days after the June 11 deadline, and announced in an Aug. 20 press release that its vehicles were certified for sale. At the same time, Mahindra posted a two sentence statement on its website stating that its relationship with Global Vehicles had ended.

Mahindra demanded the clause at the eleventh hour before the contract was signed in 2006 because it expressly wanted to limit its losses if the trucks could not be certified for sale here. Earlier this year, well before the June deadline, Global Vehicles asked Mahindra to remove the clause because it was no longer applicable and they refused. Global Vehicles later asked Mahindra for another extension but was again refused.

“We trusted Mahindra when they said they wanted to cap their losses if the vehicle couldn’t be sold here,” said Perez. “We patiently waited and accommodated Mahindra through years of delays and kept an extremely powerful distribution network intact while the factory worked through the complicated task of meeting U.S. emissions standards. We did this because we believed we were all working toward the same goals. Now Mahindra is trying to change the rules. We delivered our end of the contract, and we’re ready to get down to business.”

Global Vehicles U.S.A., Inc., based in Alpharetta, Ga., is the exclusive importer and distributor in the United States of motor vehicles produced by the automotive arm of the Mahindra

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the End, It’s All About the Truck

Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has made it clear that they no longer consider US-based importer Global Vehicles (GV) as a business partner, and have spent the last four months trying to sever their once amicable relationship with them. Recently, Global Vehicles’ CEO John Perez has spoken out, and has made it clear that he feels that Mahindra has abused elements of a contract which were negotiated in good faith. This all takes place while dealers look on and wonder if they will be speaking with Alpharetta or Mumbai once the dust has settled over this battle to sell the first India-made vehicle in the US.

Side with one company or the other if you will, but it all comes back to the truck. It may not be an earth-shattering vehicle. Maybe it’s not even worth fighting for, but without a doubt, it is a groundbreaking truck on many levels.

The recurring rally cry heard from nearly all of the Mahindra pickup lovers and haters out there is that the US market is primed and ready for a fuel-efficient, straight forward, reasonably priced, compact-to-midsize, diesel pickup truck.

After reading countless article comments and forum threads over the past three years, it has become crystal clear that Americans are ready for this product. It becomes equally clear that while there are plenty of fans dedicated to the Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups, there are many more consumers that do not care which manufacturer produces this type of vehicle. They just want the compact diesel pickup concept to become a tangible reality so that they can put their money down on it as soon as possible.

The he-said/she-said reports from both sides are likely to be silent for a while. Today, arbitration between Global Vehicles and Mahindra & Mahindra begins in International Court in London (per the original 2006 agreement). No matter how the arbitration is resolved; America has spoken, and we are ready for a new breed of small pickup trucks.

We want your truck, Mahindra. And we want Global Vehicles to supply reliable US-based support. But keep in mind that if you don’t make this truck happen soon, one of your established competitors surely will.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Global Vehicles - Mahindra Arbitration to Begin September 15th

India’s Business Standard is reporting that the battle which has been waged in quoted comments and press releases over the last three months between Indian SUV manufacturer, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, and their American pickup truck importer and business partner, Global Vehicles USA, will officially begin in court on September 15th.

It’s unfortunate that things have not gotten sorted out sooner, but now it seems to be ‘on like Donkey Kong’ in Georgia District Court.  How it all affects the December launch date remains a question unanswered.

Source: Business Standard

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updated: Mahindra Press Release on Motion to Dismiss GV Lawsuit

Another Update (6:46 PM EST)
Mahindra is demanding that Global Vehicles stops using the Mahindra name in it's marketing materials and on it's website and "avoid falsely suggesting an affiliation between Mahindra and Global Vehicles".  For the full story: GlobalAtlanta.com

Keeps getting more interesting by the minute...

MahindraTruckForum.com member, Mikeo, located the original press release regarding Mahindra’s bid to get the Global Vehicles lawsuit dismissed in US District Court as reported earlier today.

The release states that Mahindra opposes the legitimacy of the GV lawsuit on grounds that the contract between Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and Global Vehicles expired automatically on June 11, 2010. Mahindra also states that negotiations to extend the contract were conducted but did not result in an extension.

We’ll wait for Global Vehicle’s response to this latest Mahindra communication. The soap opera continues.

Source: IndiaPRWire via Mikeo

Global Vehicles v. Mahindra News Forthcoming?

There are indications this morning that a Mahindra will publish a press release regarding actions taken to have the lawsuit brought against them by US importer, Global Vehicles USA, dismissed.

The following teaser was found on the web this morning however it appears that the actual press release it is linked to was published, then retracted by Mahindra:

Mahindra Completes Briefing on Motion to Dismiss the Groundless Lawsuit Filed ...
PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 07, 2010 – Mumbai 3 September 2010: On 28 June 2010, Mahindra & Mahindra (Mahindra) filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that ...

The lawsuit initiated by Global Vehicles over Mahindra’s failure to deliver US-bound compact diesel pickup trucks after multiple delays has subsequently been dismissed by Mahindra officials in various interviews.

Mahindra has also threatened that the lawsuit could possibly cause further delays in the arrival of the anticipated vehicles, and Mahindra has previously used a press release in an attempt to terminate their exclusive contract with Global Vehicles.

We’ll keep following this story as it unfolds. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mahindra SUV and Pickup Sales Increase 14%

Mumbai, India based, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, has released its August sales report indicating that full range domestic auto sales have increased 29% and sales of it’s SUVs and pickups have increased 14% over August 2009 figures.

The Indian utility vehicle maker, who is expected to sell low-priced, 30 mpg, diesel compact pickup trucks in the United States beginning in December of 2010, has been experiencing significant growth in 2010 despite parts shortages which have hampered full growth potential.

The anticipated US market Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickup trucks are set to launch this December, and an SUV variant (Mahindra Scorpio) is rumored to launch sometime in 2011. US emissions certifications for the pickups were obtained in August and the Scorpio SUV has recently been seen testing in the southern United States. However, Mahindra is currently battling a lawsuit brought on by their US import partner, Global Vehicles USA, and Mahindra has not publicly indicated whether or not Indian production of the US bound vehicles has even begun.

Source: Mahindra

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hey Mahindra, Are You Listening?

And Mahindra & Mahindra thinks I’m down on them? Mahindra Planet’s occasional constructive criticism and suggestions for mitigating Mahindra’s multiple US pickup launch delays, their blatant disregard for positive public relations, and how they appear to ‘deal’ with their partners (Global Vehicles), their dealers, and their future customers has nothing on what some Indians have to say about them. This is not to mention all of the great commentary written by fans and detractors alike on various mainstream automotive news sites. Consider this post as an open appeal to Mahindra.

Dear Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd,

Most of us fans here in the US now figure that you really don’t care what any of us may think of you. However, most of us are convinced that you have the right product at the right time (and are ready to buy it now) and generally want to see you succeed. Some see your promised launches and subsequent delays as a reflection on your ability to deliver a vehicle that will meet expectations. Others see you as an arrogant corporation who has frustrated it’s own dealer network, is being sued by GV in the US and the UK to motivate you to deliver vehicles, is trying to dissolve contracts via press releases, and is even trying to kill Mahindra Planet as it currently exists and takeover http://www.mahindraplanet.com/ for it’s own use.

I don’t know much about marketing, but it seems to me that listening to your customers and working to continuously improve your public perception are things that most companies aspire to do. Regardless, if you do actually care about your future in the United States, you should click the links listed below and see what your potential customers really think of you, your business practices, and your products before you, ahem, deliver pickups in December.

Mahindra Planet

Here you go Mahindra (or anyone else interested). Here are the MP top 5 must-read, user-generated, Mahindra PR links:

1 – Team-BHP.com
This is (IMHO) simply the best Indian car forum out there. Some serious car fans from around the world are on this site. This very long thread reveals that some people in India have a surprising lack of faith in the success of Mahindra’s US launch. It’s an eye-opener.

2 – Autoblog.com
This is a post with some, er, interesting comments. Some good, some bad. All are a good read.

3 – PickupTrucks.com
This is Mike Levine’s latest post on Mahindra, again full of colorful commentary. I suggest digging through some of the older posts and reading those comments as well.

4 – Jalopnik.com
It’s hard to beat Jalopnik’s posts. Again, the comments are a very interesting read. Search through older posts and read those comments too.

5 – MahindraTruckForum.com
Goes without saying, MTF is the voice of Mahindra lovers and haters in the US, offering opinions galore. If you sincerely want (or barely care) to put your fingers on the pulse of the US Mahindra truck scene, you’d better get on board. Your importer and dealers lurk and participate on MTF; you should be doing the same.

Sources: As Hyperlinked

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mahindra Scorpio Spotted Testing In Tennessee

Jalopnik.com has posted photos of a Mahindra Scorpio SUV caught testing in Tennessee earlier this month. The Scorpio is likely to launch stateside sometime in 2011.

Mahindra has repeatedly said that an SUV will follow the eventual launch of Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups. It appears that this test mule is proof of that recurring statement. Sighting of the Scorpio (and the trailer it is towing) could be a very good indication that the December launch of Mahindra’s compact diesel pickups is actually (for once) on schedule.

Source: Jalopnik (with more photos)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mahindra Moves Forward: “We Have Dealers Calling Us”

Alabama-based, MontgomeryAdvertiser.com posted a report this morning after speaking with Global Vehicles USA’s Dan T. Najour (vice president of sales and marketing) and Max Butler (GV’s marketing and PR consultant) on the expected December sales date for the Indian-made, compact diesel pickup trucks.

Najour was asked if dealers were backing out of their commitment to selling the first Indian brand of light trucks and SUV’s in the United States. His response was that very few have backed out, and GV is still getting inquiries from dealers interested in carrying the Mahindra brand despite launch delays and pending lawsuits.

MontgomeryAdvisor was unable to contact Birmingham-based Mahindra dealer, Serra Automotive Group (one of the first dealerships in the country to publicly acknowledge their connection with Mahindra) and noted that their website (serraautomotive.com) was no longer operational. However, Serra’s Chevrolet website does still appear to be active and they are still listed as a dealer on the Mahindra NA dealer map.

The outlook for a December 2010 launch of the low-to-mid $20,000 compact pickups is still optimistic. Let’s hope it happens this time around.

Sources: As Hyperlinked

Friday, August 20, 2010

Breaking: 2011 Mahindra Pickups Get EPA Certification!

PickupTrucks.com and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Mahindra has finally completed requirements to obtain EPA certification for their 2011 model TR20 and TR40 pickups in the United States.  This is great news for all of those eagerly awaiting the all-diesel compact pickups which are slated for sale at the end of 2010.

Stay tuned.

Sources: As Hyperlinked

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

India Parts Shortages Continue: Does Mahindra Launch Hang in the Balance?

“At least for the next three to four months, the problems won’t get resolved.” – Pawan Goenka, President of Automotive and Tractor Operations, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (referring to widespread parts supply shortages in the Indian auto industry).

The doubling of per capita income in India over the last eight years has resulted in ever increasing demand for new cars. 2010 has witnessed a 30% increase in demand for new vehicles, with companies like Suzuki and VW resorting to waiting lists for prospective customers. Suzuki is claiming that they have a backlog equivalent to 15-20% of monthly sales volume.

At the dawn of the global economic meltdown, many Indian OEM suppliers conservatively curbed their growth in fear of reduced demand for parts. Combine the unprecedented increase in consumer demand with the overly cautious manufacturing approach that suppliers took in 2009, and the result is serious challenge for manufacturers unable to provide every customer with one of their vehicles.

Mahindra has operated under capacity since the end of 2009 when they began seeing vehicle demand increase, and realized that suppliers weren’t keeping up. In June alone, Mahindra saw an 8-10% loss of production due to parts shortages.

Mahindra still has at least a three to four month scramble ahead of them just to satisfy their own domestic demand for new SUV’s and pickups. It is unclear how this will affect the expected December launch of US compact diesel pickups (the TR20 and TR40).

If Mahindra were to begin diverting Indian (and other markets) parts and production to US market vehicles in order to meet their proclaimed December due date, they could potentially lose domestic sales to competitors by doing so. Mahindra may have to make a tough decision about which market is more important to them and which one they are willing to make sacrifices for; the thriving Indian market, or the unknown (but prestigious) US market.

Sources: LiveMint (WSJ), Bloomberg, Mahindra Planet, & Mahindra Planet

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rally dos Sertoes: Mahindra Action Photos, Stages 1 & 2

The 18th Rally dos Sertoes began Wednesday, August 11th with an arena-format, special stage (called the Super Prime) in the Brazilian city of Goiania. From there, the point to point stages have begun.

So far, so good for the Mahindra entries very early in the race. It’s too early to post positions, but here are some great Super Prime and stage photos of the Mahindra trucks in action courtesy http://www.sertoes.com/ and http://www.mahindra.com.br/

I also threw in a photo of one of the big diesel Ford’s racing at the Super Prime for you Ford fans.  Click photos to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mahindra Begins Sertoes Rally, Intends to Race Dakar in 2011

The 15-day Rally dos Sertoes begins today in the wilds of Brazil. Rally dos Sertoes is considered one of the toughest long distance adventure rallies in the world, arguably second only to the Dakar Rally.

Last year, Ricardo “Rasc” Campos, put a lightly modified Mahindra TR20 pickup on the podium in the first adventure rally a Mahindra vehicle has ever competed in (unofficially). Last year’s Mahindra entry was a quickly pieced together effort funded by Rasc, the Brazilian Mahindra factory (Mahindra by Bramont), and Mahindra dealer Mahindra-Govesa. Rasc, his son “Rasqhino”, and their Mahindra TR20 endured 3,100 miles over 11 days to finish third in class. A pretty impressive debut for any nearly stock pickup.

For 2010, a more serious team effort has been put together for Sertoes. Two new Mahindra trucks have been built to compete in the Production class. A Mahindra Scorpio SUV will be piloted by Rasc and again co-piloted by 17-year-old Rasqhino. A Mahindra TR40 pickup will be piloted by off-road racing veteran, Joshua Paniago.

In addition to the two new trucks, it appears that last year’s podium finishing TR20 will be brought back and raced by Felipe Paniago.

Both new race trucks are based on the latest production versions of the Scorpio and the TR40 pickup currently being built in Brazil. Production class rules stipulate that the vehicles retain production powertrain and suspension. Accommodations must be made for standard FIA dictated safety equipment such as a full roll cage, fuel cell, racing seats, and harnesses.

Reports also state that at least one of the trucks (the Scorpio?) has been prepared with Dakar Rally rules in mind. Rasc says that he hopes to race a Mahindra in the 2011 Dakar Rally in January. Sertoes may serve as a pre-run for their Dakar effort.

With proven veteran racer Rasc in the driver’s seat, and a serious two-truck effort (plus last year’s truck), the likelihood of Mahindra’s first ever rally victory is a distinct possibility. MP will follow the action and do our best to translate the Portuguese reports (thank you Google translator). Stay tuned.

Correction: Only two Mahindra trucks have been entered in the 2010 Rally dos Sertoes. Last year’s third place in class Mahindra TR20 pickup is once again being run this year, this time with Paniago/Paniago as driver and navigator. A newly prepared Mahindra Scorpio is being piloted by last year’s third place driver and navigator, Campos/Campos. A third truck noted in the post (a Mahindra TR40) is not being raced.
Source: Mahindra Brazil

Monday, August 9, 2010

Collateral Damage: Dealers Caught in the Middle of Mahindra Pickup Delays

Been wondering why 350+ Mahindra dealers have been so quiet? BS Motoring posted a great article this morning, interviewing Mike Geylin (GV spokesman) and Larry Neuwirth of Safeway Chevy (http://www.mahindranc.com/). Actually, it’s probably one of the best news articles I have read from an Indian source on the GV/Mahindra lawsuit, and includes the dealers view on the subject. Sounds like the dealers have low confidence in Mahindra’s ability to market and distribute their vehicles in the US themselves without the use of an intermediary like importer, Global Vehicles USA.

The BS Motoring article is here: Court battle puts a hold on M&M pick-ups

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ssangyong, Nebraska, and Flying Pigs

Ssangyong Motors

Rumor is that Mahindra is prepared to bid $400 million on the barely breathing South Korean automaker, Ssangyong Motors. MP has detailed some of Mahindra’s justification for interest in Ssangyong, including expanding their current range of vehicles: Korean Pickups

“We want to buy it for the world market. We can’t justify buying it only for the Indian market.” - Pawan Goenka, President Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra

Ssangyong would give Mahindra a turn key line of sedans, SUV’s and additional diesel technology. In some ways the Ssangyong products could be considered a more sophisticated, and a worldlier lineup than the current Mahindra portfolio.

Nebraska Dealers
MP received an anonymous tip about three potential Mahindra dealerships in Nebraska. Two of which are former (and relatively new) Saturn stores run by Dennis Schworer in the Lincoln and Bellevue/Omaha areas. The third dealership may be in the smaller town of Norfork.

The tipster also pointed out that the Bellevue/Omaha dealership is in close proximity to Offutt Air Force Base and suggested that many of the people employed there certainly would’ve had some exposure to diesel vehicles in Europe and Asia. Nebraska has been added to the Dealer Directory.

Thanks, JJ.

New Poll
Check out the new poll on the right sidebar. This is your chance to say what you think about the ethereal vapor which currently is the TR20 and TR40 pickups.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and as hyperlinked

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mahindra v. Winfield, Part II

Unsurprisingly, Winfield has lost. I could gripe about it, but life is too short. If $6 billion international conglomerate, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, wants to waste time and money shaking down some blogger who’s actually an advocate for them instead of spending time getting product on the ground in the US; well that’s their problem.

If Mahindra had taken a few minutes to contact me, a five minute phone call could’ve saved them however many thousands of dollars their attorneys extracted from them, and saved them some negative publicity. Yes, if Mahindra had called me directly instead of assuming I was out to get them and seek arbitration, I would have given them the domain names they wanted on the spot. Sincerely, it’s their loss.

Mahindra Planet is still here, and staying put as far as I am concerned. Mahindra can do what they feel is right and I‘ll keep doing the same. If this website is shut down next week, you will know what happened. A lesson has been learned from my rapid internet education provided by the University of M&M.

At the end of the day, I still want to see Mahindra get those trucks here. I think they will be a great alternative choice for a lot of potential midsize pickup buyers, and they may even snag some sales that would’ve gone to full-size and compact pickups. Whatever you may think of Mahindra or their vehicles, there are no two ways about it; a rugged, midsize diesel pickup is the right product at the right time.

In spite of the flogging, I look forward to Mahindra’s success and anxiously await the eventual arrival of their pickups in the US.

Click here for Mahindra v. Winfield, Part I

Friday, July 30, 2010

US Version of Mahindra-Reva NXR Electric Car Spied; 2011 Launch Likely

Our friends at Indian Autos Blog recently posted photos showing a left-hand drive version of Mahindra’s all-electric Reva NXR seen testing in India. The NXR shown could likely be a US market test mule.

Reva Electric Car Company, recently acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (and renamed Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicle Company), has been working with US-based Bannon Automotive to establish manufacturing and sales of the NXR and other Reva models on US soil in the very near future.

Indian Autos Blog also reports that the highway speed capable Reva NXR (replacing the current Reva City model in India) will be available to Indian customers in the fourth quarter of 2011. Previous reports have suggested that the all-electric NXR model could be available in other markets (including the US) much sooner than that.

“A lot of work is going on at the moment and the launch of the new Reva NXR and NXG should be by Q4 of 2011.” – Pawan Goenka, Chairman, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicle Company

A former plastics factory in Lysander, New York (Syracuse area) has been selected as the site to assemble complete knock down (CKD) kits of Reva car models. Each CKD will include all components necessary to build a complete car. CKD kits will be shipped from India to the Central New York operation, which will fully assemble and deliver completed cars to dealers around the country.

Although there have been no recent reports on the status of the Lysander manufacturing facility, Bannon Automotive has been working with politicians at the state and federal levels to obtain all necessary funding to break ground. It is anticipated that work on the facility will begin this fall, with manufacturing to commence sometime in 2011.

Source: India Autos Blog (click hyperlinks for specific articles), Syracuse.com
Photos: IndiaAutosBlog.com, RevaCars.com

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mahindra to Invest $1.8 Billion in Capital Expenditures

In continuation of yesterday’s news of Mahindra’s impressive 40% gain in net profit for the first fiscal quarter of 2010, Mahindra has also announced that they will be making a USD $1.8 billion capital investment over the next five years for various purposes.

"We have earmarked around Rs 8,600 crore (USD $1.8 billion) for the next five years. Out this, Rs 5,600 crore (USD $1.2 billion) will be for the Chakan plant," – Pawan Goenka, President Automotive and Farm Equipment, Mahindra & Mahindra

In January, Goenka announced that Mahindra’s Chakan plant (which builds light trucks and SUVs) would receive USD $1 billion in capex (Mahindra Scorpio Platform Replacement Moving Forward). It appears that another USD $200 million will be added to this investment. It is unclear where the remainder of the investment is going.

The question begs to be asked: Will any of this have an effect on the US launch of Mahindra pickups and SUVs?

Source: Economic Times

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mahindra Sees 40% Net Profit Gain Despite Parts Shortages

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that despite continued parts shortages, Mahindra experienced a 40% gain in net profit for the first fiscal quarter of 2010. The WSJ post does not clarify, but we believe this 40% increase is over the same time period last year. The increase in net profit is directly attributed to the fast recovery of the Indian economy from the peak of the global downturn in 2008-2009.

Mahindra is also claiming that it under-produced vehicles by 5% due to parts shortages from suppliers who are still recovering from the downturn. Slow supply of key components such as engine and transmission castings, tires, and fuel injection equipment are to blame.

High levels of domestic demand for Mahindra vehicles and local parts shortages, leaves us wondering if delays in Mahindra’s US pickup truck launch may be partially related. A quick risk assessment would place a much higher value on known demand in the Indian market over the unknown American market.

Source: WSJ

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mahindra Northwest: Washington Dealer Added to Dealer Directory

Mahindra Planet has added a Washington state dealer to the Dealer Directory.

Felix Slette, Commercial and Fleet Sales Coordinator, for Cascade Autocenter in Wenatchee, Washington dropped us a line to let us know that they will be selling Mahindra vehicles as soon as they become available.

Felix may be contacted directly by email via: info@MahindraNorthwest.us or by phone: 509-885-3407

Felix is also working on a Mahindra-specific website for the dealership. Go to http://www.mahindranorthwest.us/ and keep checking back for updates.

Source: Mahindra Northwest

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Indian Press: Mahindra Attempting to Remove Global Vehicles from Import and Distribution Partnership

India’s MoneyControl.com is reporting today via unnamed sources that the basis of the legal battle between Indian light truck manufacturer, Mahindra & Mahindra, and their US importer, Global Vehicles USA (GV), is due to Mahindra’s desire to control US distribution through their existing tractor distributor, Mahindra USA.

Mahindra has not commented on missing multiple US launch dates for the highly anticipated 30 mpg diesel pickup trucks. GV has initiated legal action against the Indian conglomerate, claiming they have purposely delayed the launch, in hopes that further delays may be mitigated. Mahindra has since countered GV’s accusations by claiming that the suit has no solid basis, in spite of Mahindra not filing required EPA documentation in order to sell their vehicles in the United States.

The report claims that Mahindra wanted to buy out Global Vehicles, but that an accord could not be reached, resulting in legal arbitration. The report goes on to state that Mahindra now desires to use their existing US tractor enterprise, Mahindra USA, to control import and distribution of the pickup trucks.

The article also states that Mahindra still intends to launch the US versions of the pickup before the end of 2010.

The report is found here: M&M, Global Vehicles in legal tussle over entry in US

Thanks for the tip, PeeWee.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Loose Grasp Of Reality?: Mahindra Marketing VP Says Trucks in US By End of Year

The Hindu Business Line published an (undated) interview with Vivek Nayer, Senior Vice President of Marketing (Automotive) Mahindra & Mahindra, this morning.

When questioned on what products will be sold in the US and what the strategy was, Nayer comes off as having lots of confidence, but with little clue about the US market and Mahindra’s launch here.

“The US launch will be by the end of the year. Initially, it will be the Scorpio pick-up which is called the Mahindra pick-up there. Later, the SUV (sports utility vehicle). Compared to the fuel guzzlers available there, ours is not one. Besides, ours is a medium SUV compared with their big SUVs. Secondly, we have the advantage of a diesel product. Diesel is catching on because diesel technology has progressed a lot. The torque is better in a diesel vehicle. So, depending on the application, we are pretty sure that we will create our own niche out there.” – Vivek Nayer, Senior Vice President of Marketing (Automotive) Mahindra & Mahindra

Curiously, Nayer tells the interviewer that the pickup will be called Mahindra Pick-Up in the US, not TR20 and TR40 as many Americans have become familiar with. This also corresponds with Mahindra’s failure to formally register the trademark names Mahindra TR20 and Mahindra TR40 with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Apparently Nayer is also unaware that several other well-established manufacturers do compete in the mid-size pickup and SUV categories in the United States. He seems to believe that the only vehicles in the market are fuel guzzling, big SUVs. Mahindra’s VP of Marketing may be in for a wake up call when the vehicles eventually launch here.

Note again that this is an undated interview from this Indian source. For the entire interview, click here: We are sure we will create our own niche in the US: Mahindra

Friday, July 9, 2010

Global Vehicles Responds to Mahindra’s Further Delay Comments

Global Vehicles USA, exclusive US importer for Mahindra vehicles, has issued a press release this afternoon regarding comments made by Mahindra & Mahindra president, automotive sector, Pawan Goenka regarding further launch delays of the India-built pickups.

The press release reads:
“ALPHARETTA, GA., July 8, 2010-It has been recently reported in the media Mahindra is claiming its pending litigation with Global Vehicles may delay the introduction of its vehicles to the United States market. This claim is both inaccurate and unfortunate. Indeed, in the litigation Global Vehicles seeks to compel Mahindra to honor its contractual obligations to obtain homologation of the vehicles and to begin shipping them pursuant to existing and long standing orders placed by Global Vehicles on behalf of its many dealers. Global Vehicles was constrained to take legal action as a result of Mahindra’s unjustifiable delay in making its vehicles available and to otherwise protect Global Vehicles’ dealers who have waited long enough for product. Global Vehicles and its dealers stand ready, willing and able to immediately begin selling Mahindra vehicles in the United States. All Mahindra needs to do is complete homologation and start delivering them. Thus any delay in entering the United States market rests exclusively with Mahindra and can in no way be attributable to the litigation or any actions of Global Vehicles.”

Global Vehicle’s statement lobs the ball back into Mahindra’s court. MP will continue to follow each volley.

Source: Global Vehicles

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Breaking: US Mahindra Entry Depends On Lawsuit Outcome

"We are going as per (our) original plan for the launch of the pick-up truck in the US, but can't say on the actual time of launch, as it will depend on the outcome of the litigation," - Mahindra & Mahindra President (Automotive and Farm Equipment) Pawan Goenka

According to NDTV Profit, Mahindra is no longer committing to a December 2010 launch date for US pickup trucks. With an actual launch hinging on a lawsuit (filed by US importer, Global Vehicles) that Mahindra has previously claimed has “groundless”, US fans of the India-made, mid-size diesel pickups could find delivery postponed indefinitely.

Click here to read the article: Our US entry depends on outcome of lawsuit: M&M

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mahindra Files For Dismissal of Global Vehicles Lawsuit

According to GlobalAtlanta.com, Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra Limited has countered a lawsuit filed against them by US-based vehicle importer, Global Vehicles USA, Inc. On June 28th, Mahindra filed a request for dismissal of the lawsuit.

Georgia based Global Vehicles (GV) is the exclusive importer for a yet-to-be launched line of India-made Mahindra pickup trucks. On June 14th, GV filed a lawsuit in US district court against Mahindra for USD $35 million, claiming that Mahindra has repeatedly and purposely delayed the release of their US line of 30 mpg, diesel-powered pickup trucks.

Since news of GV’s lawsuit first broke, Mahindra & Mahindra’s vice chairman and managing director, Anand Mahindra, has publicly stated that the grounds of the lawsuit are baseless. It appears that this request for dismissal backs up those statements.

Mahindra is claiming that the dispute should be resolved in arbitration, not in a US federal court. Mahindra calls into question the jurisdiction of any US court over the Indian company’s agreement with GV. The filing also claims that Mahindra has not been properly served by Global Vehicles who has submitted paperwork to a US Mahindra subsidiary, and not directly to Mahindra in India.

Despite legal posturing by both parties, it appears that Mahindra still has not obtained EPA certifications for the US-bound pickups, nor have they formally registered trademark protection for the Mahindra TR20 and Mahindra TR40 names. The request for dismissal of the lawsuit does not address accusations of purposeful delivery delays claimed by GV, but does suggest that Mahindra would prefer to negotiate with Global Vehicles behind closed doors instead of in the public realm.

Stay tuned.

Source: GlobalAtlanta

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mahindra Speaks: Joint Ventures, Acquisitions, and US Vehicles

“Unfortunately, I can’t talk too much about it because it’s a legal situation. But it’s unfortunate, and we have to be honest about that. It’s not something we would have liked to happen, it’s something we are dealing with and hope to overcome it. All we are saying is that we remain committed to entering the market, but clearly this is an obstacle.” Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra; regarding the lawsuit filed against Mahindra & Mahindra by US Mahindra vehicle importer, Global Vehicles USA

India’s Economic Times interviewed Anand Mahindra to get his perspective on Mahindra & Mahindra’s many recent partnerships and acquisitions in the technology, automotive, and aerospace industries.

Mahindra & Mahindra has recently acquired Australian aircraft manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics, with the intention of building fixed-wing aircraft in India within the next three years. Mahindra has also taken over majority stake in Indian-American electric car company, Reva. Most recently, Mahindra has been rumored to be communicating with Proton/Lotus about a partnership, and they are currently completing due diligence on the potential acquisition of failing South Korean auto manufacturer, Ssangyong.

Mahindra clearly has high expectations for M&M and India to become global economic and technology powerhouses. In the interview, Mahindra emphasizes that there is method to their JV and acquisition madness:

“We will do joint ventures with other elements of the automotive industry, whether it’s trucks, vans two wheelers, everything else. We are open to alliances because what they allow us is to mimic the benefits of a large automotive company. And when you add our tractors into this then we are a company which is already over half million vehicles without even counting two wheelers which are growing, and not even counting trucks. Nobody can actually say that we have drawbacks of a niche player. We have the volumes to build scale where scale is needed, procurement, R&D etc.” – Anand Mahindra

While Mahindra is very clear about on-road vehicle and tractor market strategies, it is still unclear when their line of 30mpg, all-diesel, pickup trucks and SUVs will arrive in the United States.

Anand Mahindra’s comments certainly seem to suggest that the lawsuit filed by Global Vehicles could delay the US introduction of these rugged, India-made pickups beyond the currently expected December 2010 launch date. Further delays would be ironic considering that the foundation of the lawsuit accuses Mahindra of purposely delaying their entry into the United States. The future of the Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups is still unknown.

To read the entire interview, click here: None of our M&As are done for ego and size: Anand Mahindra (popup warning)