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