Friday, March 26, 2010

US Mahindra Test Drive Interview, Part II: Power, Style, and a Great Offer


This is Part II of our interview with Jay Keffer of Motorcars Mahindra. Click here to read: Part I

Power
MP: Explain the power characteristics of the trucks you drove.

JK: “The 1st truck I drove was a very foreign market TR40. I was not impressed with the power of this truck but none the less I was cordial as I was a guest. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was being set up by GV. The next truck I drove was the TR20. Before I got out of the parking lot I was smiling ear to ear. I looked over at Fernando and said WOW. He too was smiling ear to ear. At this time he told me that this was a step closer to the US truck but that our truck was even better. This truck felt like a scaled version of an F-250. Powerful with a firm suspension but didn’t ride rough at all. The brakes are touchy firm and will put you through the glass until you get used to them. This version could have been released last year with much success. To be told that the American spec truck that we receive will be an improved version of the “enhanced” TR20 I drove is very, very exciting.”

MP: How would you say the power compares to other similar sized pickups you have driven?

JK: “That’s a great question and a difficult one to answer. I really didn’t find myself comparing it to anything while driving. If I had to compare it to something I guess it would be a Kubota truck. That’s if Kubota made them.”

Styling
MP: Styling is a polarizing element of the Mahindra TR20 and TR40 (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing). I will admit, some vehicles I have seen first in photos or video have not looked right to me, but after seeing them in person, I liked them (the BMW Z4 was one for me). What were your impressions when you saw the trucks in person for the first time?

JK: “These are great questions. Before seeing them in person, people asked me “What is a Mahindra?” I told them that it was like a Dakota sized truck with a diesel. I guess that was O.K. but I haven’t told anyone that since I saw and drove them for myself. They are taller than any midsize truck I have seen. The bed was deep with smaller than normal wheel wells (in the bed). Something reminds me of the Toyota T-100 but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the leveled out hood in combination with the grille and stout front end (not as wide as the T-100 though). So maybe a cross of a T-100 with some Land Rover characteristics (tall with big glass) with a little Kubota mixed in (work horse diesel).”

Motorcars Mahindra
MP: I understand that you are considering creating a special reservation list and making a special offer to Mahindra Truck Forum members on the delivery of the first Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups that your dealership receives. Would you care to reveal this offer or make a statement at this time?

JK: “Absolutely but first I have to explain something. I was destined for a career in automobiles. I’ve had this car crazed passion since as long as I can remember. I drive a different car from our used car inventory everyday and not just the flashy fast ones (although those are the most fun). I drove straight thru from Cleveland Ohio to Alpharetta Georgia with very little notice after working all day at the dealership and spent about 4 hours meeting, seeing & driving Mahindras. On my drive home that night I couldn’t wait to get back to the store to put my name on a Fiery Black TR40 4x4 with Leather/Alloy & Tow package. The next day I read all the posts on MTF from people who are just as excited to own one of these trucks as I am. The members on the forum were all very thankful for whatever info I could pass on and they all thanked me for driving down and getting a look for myself. There a lot of “Good People” on the Forum all of which I feel a little closer to since my involvement. One guy even picked up the phone and called me just to talk – that’s cool! (Here’s to you topgut). So, here is a “Thank You” to all the good guys and girls on the Forum. I have ordered 40 trucks which is the most any dealer was able to order (and not all did). The order platform for all dealers was 20% TR20’s and 80% TR40’s. Out of the 40 I have coming 38 are available. I will post my entire incoming inventory on the Forum tomorrow for all to see. Any Mahindra Truck Forum “Member” can quote back the truck they want and I will put their Member Name on that truck until it shows. I don’t want any deposits and will not ask for anything from any member until the trucks arrive. Let’s call it “Reserved Upon Arrival”. Once that truck hits my lot I will contact the member that reserved it. If that member purchases the truck they reserved I will ship it to their front door at my expense (US only please). I hope anyone who takes advantage of this will get as much enjoyment on seeing their name on one as I do.”

MP: Thank you again, Jay. I appreciate your time and wish you luck with Motorcars Mahindra.

JK: “Thanks for the opportunity it was great to hear from you.”

Mahindra Planet hopes to be able to give a more detailed test drive report once the US-spec TR20 and TR40 pickups hit US soil. So stay tuned.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well you have asked a car salesman to describe the car he is going to sell. He is never going to say anything that would compromise his ability to sell it to you.

Let's take an Indian company itself as an example. Tata motor's cars are known (if they are known at all) as unreliable, high maintenance, pieces of junks, and searching the internet will bring you lots of horror stories.

Guess what, pretty much the only people who have good things to say about them are, dealers (who are trying to sell them).

Of course, Mahindra is a different company, but don't get your hopes too high. You will be disappointed. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Yep, bad stuff is all I can find about Tata products around the world:

Here are some examples:

TopGear show pronounced a Tata car as the worst car "ever" (the following is in Spanish, but you'll get the gist):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2VRTQMxkjE

Note the lone comment for this YouTube video showing pictures of CityRover (a re-badged Tata car) says it all:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_I_Tfg73HA&feature=related

Tata's improved light truck is still considered horrible in all possible ways (source: follow the discussion in this forum thread
http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/showthread.php?t=12289 )

The first response to the question "top 5 worst cars" in South Africa is "Tata" listed five times. Says a lot about the quality of their product (source: http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/archive/index.php/t-95938.html )

JD Power & Associates rated Tata cars as the worst (source:
http://www.wheels24.co.za/Content/Diverse/58/e4ebf48d5aeb453981543337475c1d89/06-12-2007-11-18/2007_JD_Power_and_Associates_South_Africa_Initial_Quality_Study )

See reviews for Tata's car ( http://auto.indiamart.com/cars/indica/indica-review.html ), most of them are pretty bad. The complimentary ones were probably inserted by salesmen or dealers in an attempt at astroturfing and by people who haven't tried anything else or blinded by pseudo-patriotic feelings (like people do with some GM and Ford products here in the US).

Tata has built up such bad repuatation that even the thought of a Ford car built in India disgusts South African.

http://www.wheels24.co.za/Content/News/Industry_News/6/7670f039d1e64115b30cfc23066957da/23-09-2009-10-21/New_budget_Ford_for_SA


On the other hand, any positive reviews are from tata dealers, salesmen, tata or dealer press releases, lazy writers parroting the press releases, and premature and shallow initial reviews.

Let's hope Mahindra is different.

cWinfield said...

Hmm. All interesting thoughts on Tata. I’m guessing that most of what is being read is on the Nano, which indeed appears to be a world class piece of crap. However, Tata is a monster of a company with many more vehicles in their range which are not intended to sell at such a ridiculous price point. Google the Tata Xenon for instance.

As far as bias, like the title of this blog says, this is a Mahindra fan site. We try to be unbiased (we have been highly critical of GV and Mahindra from the start), but like anything in the media, you are doing yourself a disservice if you get your news from only one source. Check out the PickupTrucks.com test drive of the same Mahindra trucks (they also had a positive review), and look on the Aussie sites for their reviews. Keep in mind that the Japanese and Korean cars had a bad reputation when they first came here too. I think we will all be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

Thanks MP and JK for the interview. Glad to hear your experience with the truck was positive – wish I also had a chance to test drive one of those as well, especially after the TR20 “felt like a scaled version of an F-250.” Sounds really promising. I’m hoping summer 2010 is their ultimate date – no more delays Mahindra please!

Anonymous said...

> ... 2010 is their ultimate date – no more delays Mahindra please!...

Third time's a charm.

Oops! That's already past.

St Patrick's day is still fresh in my mind, so maybe it's a lucky 4 :-)

Of course, we have more numbers.

Until they hit 10 and people are reminded of the stupid metric system and they will all puke and stop paying any more attention to Ma'hind-ra.

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