Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is The Compact Pickup Still Relevant?

The compact pickup has become the unloved, redheaded stepchild of the American auto industry. Marketing is non-existent. Even the most popular small pickup in the States, the Toyota Tacoma, gets only the tiniest of television ad time. Usually the ‘Taco’ is relegated to a glimpse in a Toyota ad for other models. It certainly doesn’t get the dedicated print and television advertising that the Tundra enjoys.

Ford has declared that the Ranger (the #2 selling compact pickup) will be replaced with… the Focus and F-150. Basically, telling Americans that they do not see a future with compact pickups in it.

In MahindraPlanet’s humble opinion, the popularity of compact pickups began to wane when the major players (except Ford) all mid-sized their compact pickup offerings. We have no hard evidence to back this up with, but it seems to us that when the manufacturers decided to close the gap between compact and full-sized pickups 5 or 6 years ago, consumers were forced to make a decision between two trucks which weren’t all that different in size compared to the previous model. So, they either super-sized their truck, or resigned themselves to a smaller sedan or SUV.

The past week has seen a couple of great stories emerge on the relevance of small pickup trucks in the United States:

1 - What About the Little Guys? Small Pickups Snubbed in Detroit

Mike Levine gathered quotes from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Suzuki for their take on the compact pickup market. The debate continues in the comments section with Joe Callimachus (a regular contributor) leading in with a Mahindra rallying call. Of course, MahindraPlanet had to throw our 2 cents in as well.

2 – Will Consumers Buy Compact, Unibody Scion Pickups?

Jason lays out his view on the possibility of a small, cheap, and economical pickup coming from Toyota’s entry-level/youth brand, Scion. Jason makes good points both for and against the concept. It’s a great read. The MP opinion is that there is indeed a place for this truck. It’s a great introduction to Toyota’s truck line, and it’s practical for anyone who needs to carry small loads on occasion and doesn’t want the limitations of a wagon (who makes those anymore anyway?), and certainly doesn’t need a larger pickup.

Also check out: Tata Xenon: Your Next Dodge Dakota?

Sources: TundraHQ and PickupTrucks are also located permanently on the sidebar

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Idaho Mahindra Dealer

Rumor is that Dennis Dillon Auto Park in Boise, Idaho is using the Mahindra logo in their television ads. MP loves rumors, so we’ll list them in the Dealer Directory until we can confirm if they are actually going to be handling Mahindra vehicles in the Boise area.

Thanks for the tip, Matt H.

Link: Dillon Auto Park

The American Pickup

Bloodlines in the world of light trucks are a tangled mix of half-breeds and mongrels. The last 30+ years have seen an influx of foreign brands building manufacturing infrastructure in the United States. The post-NAFTA movement of domestic brand manufacturing between the US, Canada, and Mexico has only added to the confusion.

Anyone can find out the parts content and general manufacturing/assembly point of almost any new vehicle. The NHTSA’s AALA (Part 583, American Automobile Labeling Act) requires that all new vehicles designed to carry less than 12 passengers, or with a GVWR of less than 8500 pounds (the Mahindra TR20/TR40 will be excluded, but obviously will be mostly Indian content) must list US/CAN part content, the names of countries other than the US and Canada who provide more than 15% of total content, and point of final assembly.

The content and country of manufacture are defined by AALA, Part 583. A rough list of the elements of these calculations is listed below:

- US/CAN content is based on a “carline” basis. Meaning vehicles with a common body or frame are lumped together rather than content separated for each individual vehicle. The manufacturer is allowed to round up or down to the nearest 5 percent.
- Manufacturers must calculate equipment content percentages prior to the model year of manufacture.
- For each “carline”, the number of vehicles and subgroups (trim levels) must be estimated. Content by value, and value of equipment is also used in the estimation.

The manufacturers have some wiggle room for these calculations, but it can be assumed that each company’s estimate is pretty close to actual content and assembly

We’ve taken some time to sort out the pure breeds from the mutts. In truth, there really are no purebreds. Some are closer than others, but nearly every vehicle you buy has a good deal of global content. Your new truck, no matter the brand, likely has parts made on every continent, save Antarctica. The list below, takes the AALA data for a sampling of popular light trucks in the US. We’ve gone a step further and also listed the actual point of final assembly for each vehicle. Click for a larger view.

Source: NHTSA and from around the net

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mauro Motors Added to MP Dealer Directory

New Jersey dealer, Mauro Motors, has been added to the MahindraPlanet Dealer Directory. Tom Mauro Jr. tells us:

“My family was one of the Chrysler dealerships terminated last year. They are an establishment selling cars since 1929. They are currently selling used cars through Thrifty Car Sales. I just wanted to report that they will be selling Mahindra vehicles upon release.”

Mauro Motors does not currently have a website set up. They are located at 611 Amboy Ave., Woodbridge, NJ 07095. Mauro Motors may be contacted at 732-634-4100 or by email at .

Friday, January 22, 2010

All-New Mahindra Scorpio SUV US Arrival in 2011

Edmunds Inside Line posted a brief article yesterday on Mahindra’s SUV entrance to the US market: India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Looking to Launch in US.

The article states that plans are to launch a heavily re-engineered version of the current Scorpio SUV here later in 2010, then launch a completely new, “more sophisticated version” in 2011. The new SUV will be a “monocoque-chassis 4x4” (read, unitized body and frame). For more information on the unibody Scorpio replacement go to: Mahindra Scorpio Platform Moving Forward

Source and Photo:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tata Xenon: Your Next Dodge Dakota?

Mahindra’s main Indian competitor in the global compact diesel pickup segment is the Tata Xenon. The Xenon pickup was designed to be a world market light truck for Tata. Since its launch in 2007, Xenon has found sales success in Asia, parts of Europe and Latin America. The Xenon is Tata’s best selling vehicle in Europe.

The Xenon competes in the same class as the Mahindra TR20/TR40 (Getaway in India/Pik-Up in Australia) and the Toyota Hilux. Like the Mahindra and the Toyota it’s available as a 4x4 and 4x2 with double cab and single cab versions. In some markets it is also available as a 1-1/2 cab and cab-only versions (no cargo bed).

The Xenon has two engine options: An iron 3.0 liter DICOR (direct injection common rail) 4-cylinder diesel (turbocharged with intercooler) rated at 115hp and 222lb-ft torque, meeting Euro III emission requirements, and an aluminum 2.2 liter DICOR 4-cylinder diesel with intercooled turbo cranking out 140hp and 236lb-ft torque that meets Euro IV emission requirements.

MahindraPlanet has not heard any rumors of Tata bringing a version of the Xenon to the US market. However, we are certain that Tata is keeping a close eye on Mahindra’s entrance to America and they are taking notes for the future.

In the interest of speculation, would it be hard to imagine Tata not bringing the Xenon to the US? Their 2.2 liter engine already meets Euro IV requirements. Requirements Mahindra appears to be striving to attain with their new mDI series engines. Tata owns the Jaguar and Range Rover brands. That gives them some existing US infrastructure if they were to bring a pickup here under the Tata (or another) brand name.

Alternatively, the apparently frozen plan to build Fiat branded Xenons with Fiat engines and drivetrains in Argentina could still become a reality. Fiat and Tata have a well established financial, manufacturing, and technical relationship. Now that Fiat owns Chrysler, could we see Fiat or even Dodge/Ram branded Tata Xenon pickups in the future? Could the current or next generation Xenon be the next Dodge Dakota?

This scenario is a bit of a stretch, and speculation of a Fiat designed unibody pickup to be branded as the next Dodge Dakota is well documented. But maybe there is still room for a body-on-frame compact diesel pickup in the Ram or Jeep lineup based on a Tata design.

We’ll keep our eyes and ears open.

Sources: Tata, and as hyperlinked

Top: Tata Xenon XT
Middle: Fiat Strada pickup (unibody)
Bottom: Fiat Pickup Concept rendering, via

Monday, January 18, 2010

Xylo Wins Awards, D2 and Panel Versions Launched

Mahindra has won three Indian automotive media awards with their multi-purpose/multi-utility vehicle, the Xylo. Xylo was introduced in January of 2009 as a 7-passenger people mover and has quickly become a very successful vehicle for Mahindra in India.

A new version of the recently crowned MUV of the Year, UV of the Year, and MPV of the Year has recently been introduced, the Xylo D2:

Xylo D2
The Xylo D2 comes with the new 2.5 liter mDI CRDe engine which combines direct injection with Mahindra’s common rail diesel engine technology. The D2 version obtains 30mpg with its BS III (Bharat Stage III) compliant engine. The 4-cylinder diesel has 95bhp and 159lb-ft of torque. The D2 engine is 17bhp less than the previous 2.5 liter m-Eagle CRDe engine (non-direct injection), but showcases Mahindra’s latest engine technology and their focus on meeting more stringent emission requirements. This engine would still be a couple of steps away from US EPA requirements (BS III is equivalent to Euro III), but it is interesting nonetheless.

We mention the Xylo here since that platform will likely be the basis for the Mahindra MUC that is teased on the Mahindra North America website. The MUC appears to be an integrated body/cab pickup which could fit somewhere between a Chevy Avalanche and a Honda Ridgeline.

The new mDI engine seems to be a variation (i.e. head configured for direct injection) of the m-Eagle engine architecture which the Xylo was initially launched with. This could also be a look into the development of future (more powerful?) DI diesels from Mahindra for the US and other markets.

Xylo Panel Van
With 30mpg, a large carrying capacity, and low emissions, the Xylo panel van could also be a potential export vehicle for the US. The D2 might be the perfect delivery or transport vehicle for a business that requires a fuel efficient diesel powered van, but needs something bigger than a Ford Transit Connect, yet smaller and cheaper than a Sprinter Van.

Sources: As Hyperlinked

Monday, January 11, 2010

From 2008: MahindraPlanet Predicts Springfield, Ohio Assembly for Mahindra Trucks

In October of 2008, MahindraPlanet theorized that Mahindra’s connections with Navistar, International Truck and Engine Corporation, could easily lead to an assembly or manufacturing partnership on American soil. Pawan Goenka’s comments last week that Navistar facilities will be the first considered for US truck assembly confirmed the possibility of this prediction.

The post takes the manufacturing prediction one step further, and dreams of a reinvented, modern interpretation of the International Scout based on the Mahindra TR chassis and powertrain. With International’s light truck non-compete agreement with Ford likely null and void, the door is open for a line of pickups and SUV’s with International branding to ride the currently popular retro-styling wave.

Click here to read: Is This the Next International Scout?

Scout Images: and

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mahindra to Launch TR20 & TR40 in March and Deliver in April, US Assembly in Future

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Mahindra will first consider Navistar (International Truck and Engine Corporation) facilities first when they begin looking for an assembly location in the United States. A decision on a plant location will be considered around December of 2010, according to Mahindra & Mahindra President, Automotive Sector, Pawan Goenka.

Goenka goes on to say that Mahindra plans to launch the TR20 and TR40 pickups in March of 2010, with vehicle deliveries to start in the April-June quarter.

US vehicle manufacturing will be done on a contract basis with minimal investment in US-based infrastructure for Mahindra. Goenka also mentions that the new SUV platform being developed will be positioned above the current Scorpio model. No timelines are given for US arrival of SUV models.

To read the complete article, go to: Mahindra May Use Navistar Plant to Make Scorpio Pickup

Source: WSJ

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mahindra Scorpio Platform Replacement Moving Forward

The Economic Times reports that Mahindra & Mahindra’s plans for an all-new global SUV platform to be built in India, and marketed internationally is moving forward.

“We are developing a new SUV platform, which will replace Scorpio. This platform will be compatible with the markets abroad and will be exported from India.” - Mahindra & Mahindra President, Automotive Sector, Pawan Goenka

Mahindra plans to invest upwards of USD $150 million into the project. This is part of a total investment of USD $1 billion in capital expenditures for Mahindra’s Chakan plant.

The Scorpio platform is the common chassis used for the (soon-to-be) US-market TR20 and TR40 pickups, as well as the current Scorpio SUV marketed elsewhere. The article does not indicate whether or not future plans include some level of vehicle assembly in the United States.

The article in its entirety: Mahindra Plans Scorpio Successor

Source: The Economic Times

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mahindra Launches Maxximo Pickup

Mahindra launches its new LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle) platform, Maxximo, today at the 2010 India Auto Expo in New Delhi. The Maxximo will be a direct competitor to the Tata Ace. It is powered by a 2-cylinder Mahindra CRDe diesel engine with a displacement of 0.9 liter (900cc). Mahindra claims that the engine is ‘new’. It is unclear (but likely) that this 2-cylinder engine shares the same architecture as the 4-cylinder CRDe diesels Mahindra uses in the Pik-Up or TR20/TR40 models.

The 1 ton Maxximo will be a big brother to the 1/2 ton Mahindra Gio launched in 2009. The Mahindra Maxximo and the Tata Ace will go head to head in India where the Ace (launched in 2005) owns 90% of the LCV market.

MahindraPlanet is fascinated with these heavy duty little ‘Kei trucks’ for use as mini off-roaders and utility vehicles. We’ll continue to cover them along with other Mahindra vehicles.

Sources:,, and as hyperlinked

Monday, January 4, 2010

Anand Mahindra Interview: “You Just Have to Be in the US”

“We want to build a globally renowned brand in our niche area of sport and utility vehicles. We want to be the first and best-known Indian brand around the world, and when you have that mission, you have to be global, and you just have to be in the US. As the Frank Sinatra number goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” – Anand Mahindra

Vikram Khanna recently interviewed Anand Mahindra for The Business Times. The interview discusses the Mahindra Group’s start as a venture to build Jeeps for India to becoming the USD $6.5 billion multifaceted international entity it is today.

Mahindra relates his company’s success with installing tractor engines in Jeeps during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s to their current push in the direction of high-efficiency diesel powered pickups and SUV’s during the current global economic turmoil:

“For example, in 1973 when the first oil crisis hit, before I joined the company, sales of gasoline vehicles tanked. Within six months, Mahindras reached across the wall, we picked up the diesel engine from our tractors and planted it into our jeeps. And we never made a loss, whereas every other car company plunged after '73. That story, I think, really encapsulates our DNA. We react very quickly, we respond very well to crises and see opportunities when they may not seem evident.”

Mahindra goes on to discuss his thoughts on Mahindra making it in America:

“If you are able to meet US standards of safety and regulation, you are frankly at the cutting edge. Then you can compete anywhere in the world. The diesel vehicle we're about to launch has met emission standards even in California, which are the toughest. So we're ahead of the curve as far as emission controls are concerned.”

Mahindra continues his perspective on the timing of US market entrance:

“Just when people think there's going to be no growth in America, the way we see it, that's the time to go in. What better time can you get than when the entire auto industry in the US has been shaken up and rattled, when the historical loyalty to the big three carmakers is at its lowest ebb? American consumers today are willing to experiment with challenger brands like they have never done before. The breed of consumers who were loyal to GM or Chrysler all their lives doesn't exist any more. As a brand name, Mahindra is not unknown in the US; it has been selling tractors there for 20 years and is the fourth largest player in that market.”

Mahindra goes on to address the US fans and the haters out there as well:

“So if you look at the blogs coming out about us, obviously there is some skepticism about an Indian company entering the US car market, but there are also people saying, wow, if I can get a compact diesel pickup, that's just what I've been looking for. So these are perfect conditions to go in. Yes we have to take a risk. Will we succeed? I don't know, it's the world's toughest market. But we'll never know unless we try.”

To read the interview in its entirety, click here: India Inc’s Renaissance Man

Sources: The Business Times via