Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mahindra Launch Delays: Is 2010 Too Soon?

Automotive News published a fantastic report by Lindsay Chappell on the state of Mahindra’s US vehicle launch on Monday. It has subsequently been hacked by the blogosphere into disjointed, bite-sized chunks of reconstituted “news”. We’re not going to do any further disservice to AN here, so please click this link, read the article in its entirety, then finish reading this Mahindra Planet commentary. Automotive News: Mahindra Dealers are Still Waiting

Missed Dates
Although AN was unable to contact Pawan Goenka for a comment on the delays for their article, Mahindra Truck Forum member, Joe Callimachus was able to directly contact Goenka by email late last week. His letter follows:

On March 4th you told Reuters that Mahindra would be announcing the times for the US launch of the Mahindra Pickups, TR20 and TR40, in 2-3 weeks. It's officially three weeks today.

I really need to decide on buying a new pickup and the TR20 is exactly what I want. But I can’t keep waiting forever. My F250 is literally falling apart. I just had to take one of the fuel tanks off ‘cause it rotted away.

I would like to know if you are going to get the EPA certification and start production of these trucks soon. If not I will have to start looking at other trucks that I really don't want.

Yours truly,
Joe Callimachus
Goenka responded to Callimachus’ letter with the following:


Thank you for your interest in the Mahindra Pickups. It is very encouraging to note that there are customers waiting to purchase these vehicles. Unfortunately we are not in a position to announce a definitive date as we are still waiting for the homologation process to be completed. Only after the process is completed can we give a firm date. Hope you are able to wait for the vehicle.

Pawna Goenka
President (Automotive Sector) Mahindra and Mahindra
Obviously, Goenka is very noncommittal at this point, as is Global Vehicles. This only reaffirms contact that Mahindra Planet has had with GV and franchised dealers. All news and timelines on the launch have been driven by India since the start of 2010. Global Vehicles has taken a stealthy approach to PR and media, only passing on information as they get it, and not offering much more. It’s better to keep quiet, than to keep pissing on the customers’ Cheerios.

Feeling the Love/Hate
The overall feeling among dealers and fans is positive about Mahindra products, and most are confident that Mahindra will be a great success… once they get here. Some of the web media seems to perpetuate the gloom and doom of missed launch dates and lack of information (not that we haven’t done it either).

Whatever. That’s old news, so get over it. Part of Mahindra’s (and GV’s) charm is that they are so excited about, and emotionally invested in, their product that they tend to be overly optimistic on announcements and timelines. Does it hurt their credibility? Possibly. But then, would you rather be known for multiple missed launch dates, or for selling a crappy product that falls apart, or possibly accelerates your customers into oblivion, or worse?

Tensions Are High
Clearly there are strained relations between GV and Mahindra. GV finds themselves precariously hanging onto millions of dollars in franchise money from dealers who are spending even more money to pepper the country with proper sales shrines for Mahindra vehicles (insert your own Taj Mahal quip here). In return, Mahindra will not commit to a go date.

We’ve Waited This Long
Between supplier issues in India, the complexities of making a new vehicle ready for the road in the United States, and the development of new world-market platforms, there certainly could be concern that even a summer of 2010 launch may not be a possibility. Mahindra Planet has previously questioned some of the logic in actually launching the current first generation Scorpio platform (TR20 and TR40) in the US when the second generation vehicle looms large on the horizon.

Keep in mind that the truck Mahindra is trying to launch here is new to us, but was first introduced to India in 2002. Aside from the arguably relevant and truly geriatric Ford Ranger, eight years is ancient history for any unchanged vehicle platform for sale in the US.

From the AN article:
Speaking with Automotive News last year, Goenka said Mahindra's entry into the United States was important -- but not the company's most important current project. He said only about 6 or 7 percent of Mahindra's total global engineering force of 1,000 was working on the U.S. entry.

"We also have three new vehicle platforms we're working on right now and just completed a fourth," Goenka said. He said that entering the United States would cost half as much as developing a new vehicle platform.

More important, he said, was doing it correctly: "A launch date is very important to us, but not as important as getting our product right."

At this point, would it make more sense to redirect the efforts of those engineers working on Americanized pickup design projects and ensure that the next generation trucks are inherently designed with the US-market in mind?

If Mahindra were to scrap plans to bring the current generation TR20 and TR40 to the US, do a post-mortem on everything they have learned about developing a US vehicle, and use that knowledge in making a solid effort with a brand new truck, would they lose any more face than they already have? Again, we’ve waited this long for Mahindra, what are another few months or even another year going to matter.

Go ask your neighbor if they plan to buy a new Mahindra this year. Unless they are highly aware of auto industry news, a farmer, or possibly Indian-American, they probably won’t have a clue what you are talking about. It’s easy for all of us closely involved in Mahindra goings-on to assume that everyone in the country is on the edge of their seat waiting for these trucks. In reality, if Mahindra were to wait until 2011 to launch an all new truck, most Americans would be none the wiser, but maybe all of us hardcore fans would reap benefits worthy of our patience.


manny said...

i was reading that the Indian Getaway has a 2.6L diesel and two auto trans choices??? I rather have that choice and wait.I will be piss if they sell mw one and the very next year provide a way better model, I wouldnteven care if it got lees mpg, if it had loads more power in a 4 banger.

cWinfield said...

You have to wonder if at this point, they are taking a step back in order to take a step forward.

Anonymous said...

I am highly suspicious of the 30 mpg mileage for highway claims.

From what I can find on existing models sold elsewhere, the best it can get is 26 to 28 mpg (that is with AC off). Using the AC will bring it down to 21 to 23 mpg.

I highly doubt that a version spec'd for the US will get any better mileage than one spec'd for other markets.

Also, it's top speed is 100 mph, which means that it's performance at high speeds can be pretty bad (consider driving on those 60 to 65 mph zones).

Factor in the higher maintenance cost and wear-and-tear of diesel, the slightly higher price of diesel, this could turn out to cost more to operate.

The constant delays aren't helping either.

minal said...

Some times we ignore the promotion freebies that come with the motor oil that we buy.. Recently i bought a Castrol promotion pack for car but wasn't informed by the dealer that the scratch card offer to enter the lucky draw to go to South Africa World cup games and the dealer has assured gifts that we can collect at the time of purchase. Make sure you ask your service dealers for the contest details if you buy one in the near future and collect your assured gift :)

Truck Games said...

nice trucks!

Driving Games said...

Factor in the higher maintenance cost and wear-and-tear of diesel, the slightly higher price of diesel, this could turn out to cost more to operate.