Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mahindra Buys Majority Stake in Reva Electric Car

As Mahindra Planet reported in April, Mahindra has been rumored to be in negotiations with Indian/American electric vehicle manufacturer, Reva Electric Car Co. Ltd., to take over majority stake in the company. Reports this morning confirm that Mahindra now owns 55.2% of Reva. The new company will be renamed Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicle Co.

Reva, through its US importer Bannon Automotive, has been working for the past several months to establish an electric car manufacturing site in the Syracuse, New York area. Plans for the Central New York manufacturing facility have been steadily moving forward since recently acquiring federal, state, and local grants for the project.

Mahindra plans to initially invest USD $9.5 million into the new Reva venture.

"Our association with Reva will only help us further expand our green footprint both in India and overseas." Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman, Managing Director, Mahindra Group (@AnandMahindra on Twitter)

Mahindra & Mahindra wants to be seen as a global leader in green automotive technology. Mahindra will be introducing the first Indian made pickup trucks (the Mahindra TR20 and TR40) to the United States in December of this year. The Mahindra pickups will only be available with clean diesel engines and are anticipated to attain 30mpg while prices start at USD $22,000.

The first Mahindra pickups sold in the US will be entirely manufactured in India. However, Mahindra has been actively looking for a suitable US facility to assemble pickups and other vehicles in order to avoid the 25% “chicken tax” imposed on foreign made vehicles imported to the United States.

The Mahindra Reva facility in Central New York could provide Mahindra with some positive insight into the manufacturing prowess, technology community, and skilled workforce that the Syracuse area offers. Maybe Mahindra will even consider building clean technology pickups and SUVs in CNY as well.

Source: AP via

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mahindra Launch: Getting It Right

“It’s more important to get the launch right the first time rather than get hung up on a date. The launch in the U.S.A is a very significant step. It will give us only one chance.” – Pawan Goenka, President Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra

Nick Kurczewski interviewed Goenka last week for The New York Times. Although Goenka is still very non committal in his statements, he is “fairly confident” that the December launch date will happen. However, he does stress that the approach to the US market is far more important than the actual timing.

Kurczewski did confirm once again with Mahindra and US importer, Global Vehicles, that all EPA and crash tests are complete. All government approvals should be in place by the end of June, and production of the US-bound TR20 and TR40 pickups should begin in September of this year. This is a lot of “should”.

According to Goenka, Mahindra expects that the US market to grow again in 2011. This positive outlook is paired with Mahindra’s expectations of gaining 5-7% of the US market share with their compact diesel pickups. Mahindra still plans to introduce the Scorpio SUV (which shares it’s chassis with the TR20 and TR40) later in the year, and will eventually launch an all-new global luxury SUV currently code named W201 in the US.

Pricing for the TR20 and TR40 has still not been set. Goenka tells Kurczewski that a final retail price will not be established until the day before the trucks are launched. Curiously, this sounds as though dealers may not even know how much the trucks are going to sell for until after they actually have them on their lots.

Although this information does little to placate torch-carrying US Mahindra fans, an additional positive piece of news from the article is that Mahindra is actively working to establish a US assembly facility. Goenka indicates that Mahindra hopes to begin assembling vehicles in the United States six to eight months after sales begin.

The entire NYT article is HERE

Source: The New York Times

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet Off-Road Pioneer: Bruce Meyers

For those who don’t know who he is, Bruce Meyers is one of the true founding fathers of the US off-road industry. His crowning achievement? Inventing the dune buggy as we know it today: The Meyers Manx.

Meyers Manx dune buggies took the US desert racing and recreation scene by storm when they placed first and second in class at their very first official race, the Mexican 1000, back in 1967. With additional success at Baja and Pikes Peak, the lightweight and resilient little Manx ushered in a new era for off-road vehicles and set the standard for contemporary desert racing vehicles. At the time, off-roading was dominated by motorcycles and surplus military vehicles. Bruce used his boat building knowledge and created a lightweight fiberglass body which utilized the cheap, reliable, and plentiful VW Beetle platform with its simple but rugged suspension and drivetrain.

When most people think ‘dune buggy’ the first image that comes to mind is Meyers’ iconic Manx design. A design replicated by at least 75 different companies who eventually built well over 100,000 copies of the Manx since its first appearance in 1966.

Today, Bruce has resumed building the Manx in addition to several new models based on the classic theme: The Manxster 2+2, Manxster DualSport, and the Kick-Out SS Manx.

Bruce and his wife Winnie will be in Carlisle Pennsylvania this weekend (May 21-23, 2010), making a rare east coast appearance at the Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals. I encourage anyone wanting to meet the Meyers to make the trip to southern PA.

Denmat Cars will also be on hand with their 300hp, 1,900 pound Meyers Manxter 2+2 TurboSurfer. If you haven’t seen the TurboSurfer before, be prepared to be blown away. Denmat Cars is the only authorized east coast assembler for Meyers cars. John and Dave Denmat will be available to discuss their methodical Meyers car builds and options for building a Meyers for you.

Source: DenmatCars, MeyersManx, (for an excellent interview), Carlisle Events
Images: MeyersManx, DenmatCars

Monday, May 17, 2010

Photos of New Mahindra Unibody SUV Leaked

IndiaCarsBikes has published a concept rendering and photos of a disguised SUV thought to be the new ‘world platform’ SUV mentioned previously on Mahindra Planet.

Details of the new vehicle are pretty much conjecture at the moment. IndiaCarsBikes speculates that the 2.2 CRDe diesel engine which the US-bound Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups will receive could be an option.

The other engine option could be a Mercedes-Benz designed 5-cylinder, 2.7 liter, diesel from the Ssangyong Rexton SUV. This speculation has some substance since other news today confirms that Mahindra is indeed bidding for the failing Korean automaker (also see the MP post on the Ssangyong Actyon Sports pickup).

The ‘premium’ SUV platform (currently known as W201) is slated as a step up from the Scorpio SUV which is currently being redesigned and will launch in the US in 2011. The W201 is known to be a global platform which is likely to be brought stateside sometime after the Scorpio-based, body-on-frame platforms launch here.

The concept rendering and disguised photos seem to promise a pleasingly styled, modern and more car-like SUV. Likely to be primarily front wheel drive (transversely mounted engine) with an all wheel drive option.

Time will tell us more about this new SUV and if Mahindra successfully bids for Ssangyong Motor. In the mean time, we have another six months before we see the TR20 and TR40 diesel pickups. That should give us plenty of time to speculate on Mahindra’s future plans.

Source: As Hyperlinked

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Breaking: US Mahindra Pickups to Arrive in December!

From WSJ a few minutes ago:

“Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra's auto and farm-equipment operations, said in an interview that the new truck model has been road-tested according to U.S. government requirements and that the company expects to gain certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency no later than July. Production would begin in India in early fall and the truck would arrive in U.S. showrooms by December, Mr. Goenka said.

The truck doesn't yet have a name, but is likely to be called TR20 and TR40, depending on the model. "Since we're new, we want to emphasize that the truck is just Mahindra," Mr. Goenka said. The company has built 175 prototypes in India and tested 30 in the U.S.”

The article goes on to say that 175 US TR prototypes have been built, and discusses a timeline for the SUV (2011) and a gas-electric hybrid option (2013)

Follow the link to the WSJ article: HERE

Friday, May 7, 2010

Recycling, Mahindra’s EPA Submission, and a StrawberryFrog

Mahindra Pickup News for 07-May-2010

Without much news to report on from Mahindra & Mahindra or their US-based importer, Global Vehicles, some serious news recycling went down in the automotive cyberspace yesterday.

Autoblog Green added their two cents to the Mahindra EPA submission story that Automotive News broke over a week ago. We think some internet motor journalists had a few too many Corona’s for Cinco de Mayo. But the hardcore Mahindra fan will still want to check out the story. The Autoblog Green article is here. The Automotive News article is here. The article is here. The Mahindra Planet article (with news of Mahindra’s SsangYong bid) is here.

Insider: “Government Has Nothing to Review”
Ward’s Autoworld did have a bit of insight yesterday. They quoted an unnamed Global Vehicles insider that told them Mahindra has still not submitted required paperwork to the EPA for approval. With an estimated 90 day timeframe for approval and arrival of the first US-bound TR20 and TR40 pickups, it will certainly be August before they are available. However, rumors heard on call for a fall launch with a low-key promotion effort, and an 18-truck, cross-country caravan to promote the brand. Thanks Moulin6801!

Way, way back (in early February 2008) Global Vehicles announced that they had brought on internationally recognized ad agency StrawberryFrog to launch the advertising effort for Mahindra in the USA. At the time, StrawberryFrog had just missed out on landing the US account for Hyundai and were hungry for a US automotive account. At the time, a grass-roots advertising campaign was to be launched that would include mostly internet-based ad work and strategic print advertising. None of which materialized. Or maybe the advertising was so slick and clandestine that we just haven’t noticed…

Fast forward to yesterday and PRNewswire reports that Mahindra & Mahindra has globally hired StrawberryFrog to “develop a global Cultural Movement brand strategy”. We interpret that as unifying the Mahindra brand and making it globally recognizable. Much like General Electric is universally recognized whether or not you know that they make trains and jet engines in addition to light bulbs and home appliances.

"StrawberryFrog is helping us develop a Cultural Movement strategy, innovative global brand and digital strategy, as well as activation. We are impressed with StrawberryFrog's global track record in innovation, and excellence in strategy, technology, business, and creativity. They have demonstrated for us strategic and creative ingenuity and we are very satisfied with our collaboration." - Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman, Managing Director, Mahindra Group

So sayeth the man whose name is the brand. Will this mean that we will be seeing Mahindra truck advertising in the US soon? We certainly hope so!

Sources: As hyperlinked, and thanks to Moulin6801 for the tips and the image!