Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mahindra Press Release Full of Holes

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd hastily issued a press release on Saturday in response to the Mahindra Planet post from Thursday regarding the possible assembly of Mahindra pickup trucks in a Navistar-owned facility in Alabama.  Interestingly, Mahindra is falsely stating that MP believes that Navistar will be producing Mahindra TR20 and TR40 pickups.  It is MP’s understanding that Mahindra will produce these vehicles (build all components in India) and that Navistar will be the assembly partner and possible distributor for Mahindra vehicles in the USA.  This would be a partnership similar to the one Mahindra established in Brazil in 2008.  Brazilian company, Bramont, assembles and sells Mahindra pickups exclusively for the Brazil market. Mahindra produces the vehicles, Bramont assembles and distributes them. Read this article: Indian Mahindra Starts Production in Brazil

Never mind the fact that Mahindra also purposely accidentally misspelled the names of it’s own pickups as "T20 and T40", or that Navistar will not confirm or deny that they are involved in this project.  Very strange don’t you think?  Here is the Mahindra press release:
MUMBAI, India, December 17, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- "There have been reports in certain quarters of media and online space stating that Navistar USA will produce Mahindra's T20 and T40 pick ups in Alabama, USA in 2012, which are completely baseless & incorrect. If & when there are any material developments, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited will communicate them directly and transparently."
Sources: As hyperlinked

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Revealed: US Mahindra Pickups to be Made in Alabama Beginning 2012

Mahindra Genio DC (TR40 US)

2013 Mahindra TR20 and TR40
Mahindra Planet has been working to confirm that a 2-million-square-foot facility in Muscle Shoals, Alabama which was recently leased by Navistar, will begin assembling Mahindra TR20 and TR40 compact diesel pickup trucks beginning in the first half of 2012 and sell them in the United States as 2013 models soon after.

Despite the infamous fallout and between Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Mahindra) and US importer/distributor, Global Vehicles (GV), Mahindra Planet understands that Mahindra has continued to work with Navistar to locate a suitable assembly location for Mahindra vehicles in the US.  Mahindra Planet was tipped regarding this potential news shortly after Navistar announced that they were signing a 10-year lease for the facility on September 27th.

A US Mahindra Truck Plant
The mile-long facility in Northwestern Alabama (about 70 miles west of Huntsville) will be leased by Navistar (International Trucks) beginning January 1st, 2012.  The 10-year lease was officially signed on October 24th.

A Navistar press release on the announcement does not disclose what product will specifically be produced at the former rail car manufacturing plant.  However, the company intends to make the facility a cornerstone of a planned expansion strategy.  The Alabama Trucking Association references state-filed documents which state that the purpose of the lease is for Navistar to engage in its “business of motor vehicle and related product manufacture and assembly”.

Requests for comment by Navistar, Mahindra, and Global Vehicles have gone unanswered.  However, sources near the project have stated that engineers from India have regularly visited the facility over the last 2 years, and that Navistar plans to assemble a pickup truck with a diesel engine from India there.  Navistar’s press release states that “Navistar intends to finalize its initial operating and product plans for the facility in the coming months, and expects to disclose those details by year end.”

Mahindra Genio SC (TR20 US)

The Navistar-Mahindra Connection
Navistar and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd have a long-standing business relationship which reaches back to 1963 and continues to this day with a shared engineering and manufacturing joint-venture which produces Mahindra-Navistar heavy trucks for the Indian market.

Mahindra has repeatedly been rumored to be searching for an appropriate assembly facility in America since 2008.  Mahindra stated in January of 2011 that despite their dismissal of former import partner, Global Vehicles USA, they were open to partnering with Navistar to find a suitable location for assembling Mahindra Pickups specifically for the US market.

US Manufacturing Justification
Assembling the compact diesel pickups in America from India-made parts allows Mahindra to avoid the 25% Chicken Tax imposed on complete vehicles imported to the United States.  This has been a key part of Mahindra’s strategy to offer their compact diesel pickup trucks at a low price in order to successfully enter the highly competitive US light truck market.  Assembling the TR20 and TR40 in a "right-to-work" state like Alabama also has the potential to keep manufacturing costs low.

Navistar’s involvement, and the location of the new facility close to existing plants will (in Navistar’s own words) allow them to “capture synergies and efficiencies given the close proximity to Navistar’s two engine plants in Huntsville.”

Mahindra and Global Vehicles Await Arbitration Verdict
Global Vehicles and Mahindra & Mahindra are still awaiting an arbitration decision which will determine the fate of their tumultuous relationship and indicate which company will ultimately control import and distribution of Mahindra vehicles in the United States.  Despite the lack of a rendered verdict, it appears that Mahindra is moving forward with US-assembled pickups and will be producing vehicles here no matter the arbitration outcome.

If Global Vehicles retains distribution control, they will continue to service the nearly 350 dealers which they have established franchises with nation-wide.  If Mahindra is granted control of distribution, they may be able to utilize Navistar’s distribution resources, establish their own relationship with the dealers already set up by Global Vehicles, utilize their tractor distribution through Mahindra USA, or a combination of all three.

EPA Certification
WardsAuto reported in September that Mahindra has not submitted a formal application to the Environmental Protection Agency for a 2012 model-year federal emissions certification as they had for the 2011 model-year back in late 2010.  Mahindra still has until the end of 2011 to file for a 2012 model-year certificate.  However, it is more likely that Mahindra will wait until the beginning of 2012 to file for a 2013 model-year certificate for pickups they intend to sell as 2013 models.  The EPA has not returned MP’s request for comment.

WardsAuto also reported that “Mahindra & Mahindra has identified itself to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a vehicle manufacturer and submitted the necessary information to sell its vehicles in the US”.  Mahindra Planet confirmed with the NHTSA that although no additional paperwork has been filed recently by Mahindra, any manufacturer may begin moving forward with their business plans without approvals or submitting crash test data.

Return of the Scout?
Alabama Govenor, Robert Bentley has stated that the lease agreement with Navistar has the “potential to be one of the largest economic development projects in the United States and will transform northwest Alabama”.

While not necessarily the return of an International-branded light truck like the old International Scout, this move will make Navistar and Mahindra a player in the North American light truck market (remember that Navistar no longer has to abide by a non-compete agreement with Ford).  It could also be a stepping stone for the entry of Mahindra’s recently unveiled XUV500 which was arguably designed purposely for the US market and is experiencing great success in India.

Mahindra XUV500
US Jobs
To take full advantage of state tax incentives used to lure Navistar to the Alabama facility, Navistar must employ at least 1,800 workers by the end of 2015.  Local news reports have stated that Navistar intends to eventually employ 2,200 workers at the facility and fully optimize the manufacturing capabilities of the plant. 

Navistar’s Secret
Despite their promise of creating over 2,000 new US manufacturing jobs and the Alabama govenor’s comments about this being one of the largest economic development projects in the US, Navistar is being curiously tight-lipped about what will actually be made at the facility.  Since the arbitration decision has not yet been made (word is that that a decision may not be made until after the New Year begins), an official announcement on what will be produced there has still not been made.  There is a correlation here.

Mahindra Is Not Dead
Mahindra Planet is convinced that plans are indeed in place to manufacture Mahindra vehicles in the US in 2012.  We believe that American Mahindra fans have something to look forward to in 2012.  Stay tuned as we learn more.

Sources: As hyperlinked
Photos: Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Best of Mahindra Planet: Roasting The Old Scout Chestnut

We’ve dug back into the dark and musty MP archives again (located deep inside a western Kentucky cave under ancient Native American burial grounds for safe keeping) and returned to the surface with a couple of popular jewels for all to admire once again.

Mahindra Planet has beaten the old Mahindra-Navistar (International Trucks) horse to death and back several times in the last three years.  So why not give it another smack and read our prediction/dream of a modern incarnation of the classic International Scout pickups and SUVs.  The connection between these two companies is still deep, so why not continue to conjecture:

From 2008: MahindraPlanet Predicts Springfield, OhioAssembly for Mahindra Trucks


If neither of these articles satisfies your neo-retro truck nostalgia, make sure you keep up with Icon 4x4.  Not only have they been continuing to build their incredible Icon CJ3B and Icon FJ series trucks, they have also teamed up with famous designer Camilo Pardo (Ford GT designer) to create a new Icon Bronco based on the classic first generation Ford Bronco design:  Icon 4x4

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mahindra XUV500 Launches

Notice: Mahindra Planet will refrain from the usual flow of low key, snark-filled comments about Mahindra in the US in the following post.

Why the reprieve from MP’s de rigueur glibness?  Because the XUV500 really is a vehicle that Mahindra and India is (and rightly should be) extremely proud of.

The Mahindra XUV500 officially launched yesterday in India.  It is Mahindra’s first completely in-house automotive design and engineering effort.  Mahindra has spent years developing the XUV500, with test mules being spotted around India on and off for last three years alone.

As MP has described before, it is a front engine, 4-cylinder diesel, front wheel drive or all wheel drive, unitized construction, SUV.  Performance and driving evaluations are yet to be available, but judging by the overall look of the SUV and the known performance of the 2.2 liter mHawk engine, it certainly seems like the Mahindra should at least be competitive with other vehicles in its class.
 The styling is fantastic.  Mahindra did a great job of retaining brand identity and creating a unique design which will make a lasting impression.  The interior details look great, and fit and finish appear to be miles ahead of any other Mahindra SUV or pickup. has put together a comprehensive article with a huge series of great photos of the XUV500.  Go there to see more details:  Mahindra XUV500: Exclusive Photo Feature

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diesel Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado Ready for 2012 Release

2012 Ford “Global” Ranger
This is Ford’s new mid-size pickup which will be available pretty much everywhere in the world except the US as MP has complained about inthe past.  It will be available in regular cab, extended cab, and quad cab versions with choices of a gasoline 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual, or 4 and 5-cylinder diesels with 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmissions.  Read it and weep at First Drive: 2012 Ford Ranger

2012 Chevy Colorado
The good news is that we will likely get the new Colorado within the next few years.  The bad news is that engine options for the US are still undisclosed.  MP is a big proponent of GM installing the upcoming 4-cylinder diesel set for the Chevy Cruze in the new mini ‘rado.  Bolt up a 6-speed manual or 6-speed (or more) automatic and that engine could be a decent performer in a little pickup, but we will wait and see.  Read more at Next Gen Chevy Colorado Gets Ready for World Debut

Friday, September 16, 2011

2010 Revisited: “You Just Have to Be in the US”

Ah, January of 2010.  The year held so much promise.  A year full of hope; filled with gilded daydreams of Indian pickup trucks roaming American country roads and city streets: 

“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

Four days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mahindra was on the lookout for a US assembly location for Mahindra SUVs and pickups and that TR20 and TR40 compact diesel pickups would be delivered to US dealers between April and June of 2010.

Cue the sound of the record player needle rapidly scratching across a record.

Today’s reality certainly isn’t as warm and fuzzy.  We’ll leave you on this early fall Friday with a fond look back at the glory days of long ago… okay, a year and a three quarters ago.

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

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mahindra to Lose EPA Approval in 2011

It’s hard to believe it was over a year ago that Mahindra finally announced that it had completed the physical requirements to obtain EPA certification.  Excitement was building and many fans were beginning to think that the arrival of the Mahindra diesel pickup was on the horizon.

Sadly, in the time that has passed, Mahindra purposely delayed completing the EPA paperwork filings, kicked its importer (Global Vehicles) to the curb, and the EPA released its Estimated New EPA MPG fuel economy ratingfor the USmodel Mahindra TR40 4x4 of only 21 mpg.

Mahindra appears to be on to bigger and better things (Ssangyong) with seemingly little regret and no remorse about abandoning their US market aspirations.

Now we close in on the end of 2011.  Mahindra will lose their 2011 model year EPA approval, and they have not filed for 2012 approval.  Mahindra and GV are currently in arbitration and a whole bunch of US dealers are left with sparse bank accounts and empty showrooms.

Well Mahindra, thanks for trying.  Maybe we we’ll see you again someday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Official: W201 is Mahindra XUV500, December Launch Expected

Mahindra announced today that its long anticipated global SUV will be called the XUV500 (according to the press release, pronounced XUV ‘5 double Oh’), and launch this December in India and select global markets.

Mahindra Planet has detailed what is known of the new SUV on several occasions, and it appears that not much has changed.  The XUV500 will be positioned above all other current Mahindra products and target global competitors like Toyota, Mitsubishi, GM, and Ford.

The XUV500 will be a unitized (monocoque or unibody) design with a front transverse diesel engine layout and likely all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive versions available.  The XUV500 presents somewhat of a landmark for Mahindra, as it is the first complete vehicle to be designed and developed in-house, and represents a significant departure from the less refined, rugged trucks they currently build.

While the XUV500 was designed for world markets (including the US), it is likely that they will focus on utilizing existing Ssangyong distribution networks and initially focus on markets that Mahindra already has a presence in (like Africa).  However, don’t hold your breath for the XUV500 or other Mahindra products in the US any time soon.

Click HERE for the press release (which doubles as a great drinking game if you down a shot every time they mention the word “truly”).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ouch: Americans More Willing to Buy Chinese Cars than Indian Cars

Remember the Hyundai Excel?  Surely Hyundai hopes that you have long forgotten that sad first chapter of their US success story.  It’s taken over twenty years of hard work and aggressive marketing for the Korean brand to gain general acceptance here.

Results from GfK Automotive’s Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery Study shows that only 38% of surveyed Americans would consider buying a Chinese car.  Surprisingly (to Mahindra Planet anyway) only 30% would consider buying an Indian car.

It’s likely that most Americans do not realize that China and India already have an automotive presence in the US through acquired brands (China has Volvo owned by Geely and India has Jaguar and Land Rover owned by Tata).  And it is easy to forget that the mighty Japanese brands once faced similar challenges when they first arrived on US shores decades ago.

Clearly, the Mahindra brand would face many challenges beyond their damaged credibility among US auto enthusiasts.  Poor quality or customer service would force them into an even harder uphill battle.

Entering the US with Korean brand, Ssangyong, certainly has to look more appealing to Mahindra these days.  Thanks in part, to the Hyundai Excel.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Alpharetta

That deafening silence you hear is the sound of Mahindra and Global Vehicles making preparations for their upcoming arbitration in August.  The fate of some 350 franchised Mahindra dealers and the presence of Mahindra trucks in the US hang in the balance.  Maybe no news is good news, but then again, maybe some of the enthusiasm built up over the last 4 years has finally begun to fade.

Even a diehard Mahindrista has to admit that the chance of seeing Mahindra pickups on US roads in the near future is slim.  Publicly, Mahindra only speaks of their Ssangyong product line making it to America.  As time rolls on, more manufacturers appear to be closing in on the niche Mahindra intended to own just a few years ago.  Ford’s EcoBoost F-150, the global Chevy Colorado, Nissan’s development partnership with Cummins, a new compact Ram pickup, and continued talk of a Jeep pickup all begin to overlap the mid-size, high capacity, fuel-efficient, diesel pickup concept Mahindra has touted but failed to deliver.

Maybe Mahindra could change their angle of attack, and bring in a truly bare-bones, bargain-basement heavy duty pickup on the cheap.  There still may be an opportunity here for that.  Of course, they now have the additional task of repairing their reputation.  

Maybe Mahindra has served its intended purpose.  Mahindra has become a case study in how not to launch a vehicle in the US.  Lessons learned should enable them to make a better go at successfully launching Ssangyong here.  Has the wave has crested, retreated, or only begun to push ashore? We’ll find out in August...
“And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Sources: MP,, and Wikipedia as hyperlinked

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mahindra Class Action Gains Momentum, Dealers File Complaints at State Level

A lawsuit initiated by St. Louis-based would-be Mahindra pickup dealer Jerry Ackerman, has piqued the interest of 45 other expectant dealers seeking refunds and punitive damages from Indian automaker, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Mahindra) and US importer, Global Vehicles USA (GV).  Additionally, another 70 dealers recently met in Atlanta to discuss joint legal action directly against Mahindra & Mahindra.

Class Action Claim
As we reported in April, Ackerman and Automotive Leasing Corp. filed a federal class action claim against both Mahindra and GV.  The claim states that despite Ackerman’s requests, both Mahindra and GV have refused to release the money paid for three Mahindra franchises.  The class action lawsuit is open to any entity that entered into at least one Dealer Sales and Services Agreement and paid money for the right to sell Mahindra products and accessories.  The suit seeks actual and punitive damages for breach of contract.

According to Automotive News (via Autoblog), around 45 (of around 350) other dealers have shown interest in joining Ackerman’s class action claim.

State Grievances
Another 70 dealers met in Atlanta (GV is headquartered in nearby Alpharetta) Georgia last month to discuss taking legal action directly against Mahindra.  Global Vehicles has not responded to email requesting response on the Ackerman claim, but Mahindra Planet is surmising that they are the organizers of the Atlanta meeting and are possibly encouraging the dealers to organize and seek legal action against Mahindra directly.

The 70 Mahindra franchisees, lead by New Hampshire car dealer Joseph Yergeau, intend to file complaints against Mahindra directly with their state motor vehicle law enforcement agencies.  These dealers feel that Mahindra and its failure to deliver its over-promised compact diesel pickups lies solely with Mahindra itself.  Yergeau says, “Our beef is with Mahindra, not Global.  Mahindra refuses to to talk to us.  But at some point they are going to have to deal with their dealers.”

A Third Action
Since Mahindra claimed that its distribution agreement with GV was null and void back in August of 2010, GV has focused on litigation and an arbitration process to come to an accord with Mahindra and satisfy the empty-handed dealer network they began developing in 2008.  After being forced to drop their federal lawsuit directly against Mahindra in February, GV has focused entirely on the arbitration set to begin in August of this year. 

According to Automotive News, some dealers have been contributing to a legal defense fund in support of GV’s arbitration efforts.  After an arbitration decision is rendered, GV will once again have the option of filing another federal lawsuit against Mahindra if they choose to do so.

With three separate actions occurring simultaneously: 1) federal class action, Dealers v. Mahindra and GV; 2) Dealers v. Mahindra, via state law enforcement; 3) GV v. Mahindra arbitration, a clear outcome and conclusive arrangement may not emerge for quite some time.

As an anonymous dealer on a dealer’s forum put it:

“In a nutshell, for my investment to be worth a plug nickel, Mahindra needs to do one of three things: 1) Give an absolute confirmation, "Global's Dealers are Mahindra's dealers regardless of the outcome of the Arbitration; or, 2) Global needs to win the Arbitration; Or, 3) Mahindra needs to buy either a majority interest in Global's stock (thus we become Mahindra's dealers) or buy out Global's Assets including all the franchise agreements (thus we become Mahindra's dealers).

Clearly, there is little here we dealers have contol over!

You're right--What a Mess!”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Opinion: Ram Ridgeline?

2002 Dodge M80 Concept
Back in 2002 Dodge came out with the M80 Concept.  The exercise was to see if there was demand for a fairly light, minimalist pickup design with styling and pricing that would appeal to a younger pickup (first time buyer) demographic, and those who just needed a basic pickup with decent hauling and towing capabilities and a very low target price (I think it was under $20k at the time).  I was all over it.  I wanted the M80 so badly with its retro-mini-PowerWagon styling, and I was a DaimlerChrysler employee at the time (discount!).  I even got to see the concept in person later that year and I was in love.  If they had built it, I would’ve been first on the list.  In my eyes the styling still looks fresh (even though they eventually slapped nearly the same nose on the Nitro) and I would still buy it today.  Stick a little Fiat diesel in it and its even better.
 If you read the comments on the post on theRam Lifestyle Pickup (possibly similar to the 2006 Rampage Concept), there is a commenter (@paul810) who believes that the Ram Ridgeline/Rampage/Lifestyle (or Rampon as @pup cleverly named it) is purposely a softened up, unitized pickup so that it won’t compete with an expected Jeep small pickup (possibly a more rugged full-frame compact, and not the JK8 conversion).  I suppose that the Rampon has its place, but I am seriously hoping that the Jeep takes a lot of cues from the M80 and gives us something more along those lines.

Monday, May 16, 2011

India to Require Diesel Vehicles to Average 46.8 mpg by 2015

The Indian government is set to impose stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements on Indian automakers within the next year.  While the current average allowed for an automaker’s full line of vehicles is 36.6 mpg, companies like Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata will have until 2015 to make a 10 mpg improvement when the new standards take effect.  If the CAFE requirement isn’t met, manufacturers will face monetary penalties.

The increased fuel economy ratings are directly related to a reduction in CO2 emissions.  The current 36.6 mpg target correlates with the production of 165 grams per kilometer, and the 46.8 mpg target translates to 135 g/km of CO2 emissions.  Environmental organizations are pushing for India to aim for parity with European standards and achieve 110 g/km by 2020.

Indian manufacturers build many small vehicles like Mahindra’s Gio and Maxximo which help them to meet the current standards.  However, the proposed requirements will force all manufacturers to tighten their fuel efficiency belts.  Since Mahindra is, and intends to remain an SUV-focused company, we can expect to see economy improvements across the product range, but they will certainly make hybrid and electric technology more of apriority.  Efficient designs from Ssangyong and Mahindra-Reva electric cars should help Mahindra meet the standards as well.

Of course none of this will immediately effect the US introduction of Mahindra or Ssangyong vehicles.   But it does help to force common global economy and emissions standards into place.  India is emerging as an international automotive player.  Quickly stepping up to meet some of the world’s strictest emissions standards is a very positive move which will help all Indian manufacturers to be seen as serious global carmakers and shed some of their third world stigma.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

M&M Open to Using Ssangyong Engines in Mahindra Vehicles

Ssangyong Rexton (courtesy
Pawan Goenka, President Automotive and Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, has recently stated that Mahindra could possibly install more powerful engines in its vehicles from recently acquired Ssangyong Motor Company (SYMC).

Ssangyong produces its own engines using technology and designs licensed from Mercedes-Benz.  In fact, the Ssangyong Rexton CUV is effectively a Mercedes M-Class with a body styled by Italdesign and built in South Korea.

Mahindra plans to introduce the Ssangyong Rexton and Korando C models in India this year.  Their plan has been to import complete knock down kits (CKD) from South Korea and assemble complete vehicles in their Indian factory.  Recent changes to Indian import regulations concerning the definition of CKD kits, may force Mahindra to build Ssangyong engines on Indian soil in addition to assembling the complete vehicles.  
Korando C (courtesy
Goenka was recently asked by if the CKD definition change would force Mahindra to consider using Mahindra engines in Ssangyong vehicles for the India market.

“These products are of a higher horse power (bhp) category. Both Rexton and Korando C use a 175 bhp engine. We don't have an engine of that category. If these products using M&M engines, which is 120 bhp, they would be underpowered. So, it is very unlikely that we would consider a Mahindra engine for an SYMC product. However, the option of using SYMC engines in our products is certainly available to us. If we feel some SsangYong products need engines with lower horse power, M&M engines are easily available.” Pawan Goenka

Despite ongoing setbacks in Mahindra’s attempt to enter the US market with diesel pickups and SUVs, Mahindra’s consideration in using alternative or more powerful engines sourced from its complete corporate catalog could be an asset.  

The US government sees Mahindra pickups as an imported vehicle.  They are not going care if the engine in an Indian built vehicle comes from India or South Korea, as long as it meets safety and emissions criteria (they potentially face the Chicken Tax either way).  Using the more powerful (and possibly more readily EPA compliant) SYMC engines could be a benefit to US Mahindra pickups if/when they arrive here.

Source: BSMotoring

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

US Dealer Starts Class Action Against GV, Mahindra

Developing story: A dealer signed on as a Mahindra pickup and SUV franchise has filed a federal class action lawsuit against both US based distributor Global Vehicles, and Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd over failure to supply promised vehicles to prospective dealers.

From the complaint:

"Despite promising to import Mahindra vehicles for sale to the public through plaintiffs and members of the class, neither Global nor Mahindra ever imported any vehicles into the United States for distribution through its network of franchise dealers,"

The suit claims that GV and Mahindra have taken USD $60 million from dealers in franchise fees.

More to come on this breaking story...

Source: Courthouse News

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ssangyong KEV2 Concept Unveiled, 2013 Production Possible

Mahindra-owned, Ssangyong Motor Company, took the cover off its pure electric KEV2 CUV concept late last week at the 2011 Seoul Motor Show.

The KEV2 follows on the heels of a rumored pure-electric CUV based on the current production Korando C SUV.  Ssangyong confirms that the KEV2 is indeed based on the Korando platform. Some news outlets predict that Ssangyong could introduce a production version of the concept as early as 2013.

Ssangyong claims that the KEV2 has a 112 mile (180km) range and is capable of reaching 93 mph (150 km/h) with its 35kWh and 350V Lithium polymer battery (sourced from LG Chem Ltd) and 160hp (120kW) motor.  Standard full range recharge time is 8 hours with a minimum quick charge time of 30 minutes for limited range.

Ssangyong has stated that it plans to sell vehicles in the US within the next 2-5 years.  It is likely that Ssangyong sees the Korando C as a flagship model for the US market introduction of their brand.

Could we find the KEV2 sitting next to the Korando C on US showroom floors in a few years? The diesel and plug-in hybrid Korando C SUV, the diesel SUT1 pickup, and the pure-electric KEV2 CUV would be a solid North American lineup, and would allow Ssangyong to position itself as an environmentally conscious alternative brand from the get go.

Sources & Images: TechOn, Car Review, Car Body Design

Monday, April 4, 2011

April Fools Day Revisited

2011 Ford Harley-Davidson Ranger via’s “Ford to Continue US Ranger Production Indefinitely” article from last year was an instant classic.  Well worth checking out a year later.  Funny and tragic at the same time… like a Robin Williams movie from the 80’s and 90’s.

Insert The World According to Garp/Mrs. Doubtfire/Patch Adams/Good Morning, Vietnam/etc. scenes here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Next Generation Chevy Colorado Revealed: Wow

Chevy Colorado via
I generally have a preference for GM’s current styling direction, but the photos released yesterday of the next generation Chevy Colorado are particularly stellar, IMHO.  The truck looks like it was designed and equipped with the North American market in mind.  GM still won’t confirm whether or not the new Colorado will make it to the US, but judging by its appearance and interior features, it has to be very likely that we will be seeing it sometime soon

Note that you don’t hear GM making any excuses about the Colorado being nearly the same size as the Silverado, or that people want a Cruze instead of a small pickup (insert Ford marketing nonsense here).
 For all the details and more photos of the new Chevy Colorado, go to

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring 2011 Launch for Mahindra W201 on Track

Mahindra W210 Artist's Rendering
IndianCarsBikes is reporting that Mahindra dealers in India are preparing for an April or May release of Mahindra’s all-new flagship SUV, W201.

Known only by the codename W201, it will be Mahindra’s premier SUV featuring an all-new unitized body design and transverse engine layout as MP detailed back in November.

Mahindra has recently finalized acquisition of Ssangyong Motor, and arbitration over US distribution of Mahindra vehicles is now set to conclude in August of this year. The combination of these two events doesn’t appear to point to the W201 making an appearance in North America any time soon. The launch of Ssangyong SUV’s in the US may (or may not) become a more likely scenario.

Nevertheless, the story of the W201 is worth revisiting: W201: The Card Hidden Up Mahindra’s Sleeve

Source:, as hyperlinked

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

U.S. to see Ssangyong SUV’s in 2-5 Years

Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept via
 Ssangyong Motor Co. Chairman, Yoo Lee, has told Automotive News (via AutoWeek) that his company ultimately intends to sell its Korean-made SUV line in the United States “two to three years from now, but within five years at the latest.”
Lee foresees some struggles in complying with complex US homologation requirements stating “We will need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations.” Clearly, Ssangyong understands the challenges (lessons learned from Mahindra) but intends to pursue the strategic US market.

Battle of the Brands
News of Ssangyong’s US ambitions still leaves Mahindra dealers and current/former Mahindra distributor, Global Vehicles USA (GV) in a vacuum.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, wholly owns Ssangyong Motor. Ssangyong’s line of small SUV’s are primarily powered by 4-cylinder turbodiesel engines with a few gasoline-fueled options. It is likely that Ssangyong will want to focus on diesel engines for the United States.

Mahindra Dealers and Global Vehicles may be legitimately concerned that Mahindra’s Ssangyong takeover has created a loophole which would allow M&M to bypass GV and some 350 dealers who have committed to selling Mahindra-branded pickups and SUV’s powered by 4-cylinder turbodiesel engines.

Rendering of a Mahindra branded, Ssangyong Korando C via IAB
The Ssangyong brand name (or as’s Mike Levine surmises, a newly created brand name) could be used on any Mahindra or Ssangyong built vehicles imported to the United States. Creating a new brand dedicated to the US market could potentially circumnavigate the ongoing legal battle between GV and M&M. This could allow Mahindra to establish its own import and distribution enterprise, and bypass the current Mahindra dealer network set up by GV. The dealers and GV are legitimately concerned that they could be left in the dust.

Conflict of Interest
There is little sense in Mahindra bringing competing diesel-powered brands and products to an already challenging and competitive market. Cherry-picking the best products from Mahindra and Ssangyong and rolling them into a unified brand may be more strategically sound.

Mahindra is extremely dedicated to the globalization of the Mahindra brand name and has established decent brand recognition in the US with their tractor and information technology divisions. On the flip side, the Mahindra small truck brand in the US has become a symbol of Mahindra’s inability to create a truly global automotive product and execute an enchanting business and marketing strategy in the United States. A new brand name may help bury these negative impressions.

Source: AutoWeek

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jewels of Geneva: Ssangyong SUT 1 and Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The 2011 Geneva Motor Show is underway and it sure seems like the Europeans are getting a glimpse of far cooler machinery (both in concept and production form) than Americans have seen at US shows in several years. Okay, the Ford Raptor, GMC Granite, and Sierra All Terrain HD concepts are a few recent truck market exceptions.
Two vehicles that will stand out to Americans hoping for a legitimate US small pickup offering with diesel power are the Ssangyong SUT 1 and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

2011 Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept

Ssangyong SUT 1
Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor (recently acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd) has unveiled their SUT 1 concept pickup truck at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The concept pickup is likely to be based on a unitized platform shared with the Ssangyong Korando C SUV (Editor 11-Mar-2011: The SUT 1 is not based on the Korando C unibody platform.  It is actually an updated version of the body-on-frame Actyon Sports pickup.) The engine is a 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel (likely a design licensed from Mercedes-Benz) putting out 153 hp and 265 lb-ft torque, and backed up with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Despite its unfortunate name (sounds like ‘suck one’ to us, S-U-T doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), the pickup is styled quite well. We suspect that the body concept was outsourced to an Italian design house as Ssangyong has done with the Korando C. Nothing against Mahindra’s styling department, but they should seriously consider using some Western consultation on their body design (although the W201 seems promising).

2011 Ssangyong SUT 1 Concept

The SUT 1’s wheelbase is about 2 inches shorter than a Honda Ridgeline’s and looks to have about the same amount of cargo space. It’s likely that a production version would get the same rear wheel drive or full time all wheel drive configuration options already available on the Korando C. Will we ever see it in the US? thinks we will. Based on the minimal success of recent trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Subaru Baja, it’s questionable. Factor in the completely unknown Ssangyong name, and it’s probably a hard sell unless it has a really ridiculous base price. MP has been wrong before.
2011 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak is highest trim level of the new Ranger mid-size pickup that has been known for some time as ‘T6’ or the ‘Global Ranger’. This is the truck that many people wish Ford would bring to the US. The photos pretty much speak for themselves: it’s a killer truck and there are undoubtedly thousands of Americans who would love to own it, if they actually brought it here. How Ford can justify a prohibitively expensive halo truck like the Raptor but refuse to replace the outgoing Ranger with the new global Ranger is completely baffling. Seriously Ford, WTF?
2011 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

With a 7,385 pound towing capacity and a 197 hp/346 lb-ft torque, 3.2L 5-cylinder diesel engine, with manual or automatic transmission options… I’m sure that no one in America would ever want such an anemic and weak little truck. Obviously it’s terrible, so that is why 188 countries will get it, but the US and Canada will not. We can dream anyway.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Updated: GV Drops Lawsuit against Mahindra

Updated 24-Feb-2011: For the last few days the official North American Mahindra website operated by Global Vehicles USA, Inc. has been down.  When typing the url in your browser, an error is returned stating that the domain name does not exist.  Also note that the GV's corporate website, is now "under construction". 

Mahindra posted an official statement on the dismissal of GV’s lawsuit last week. It confirms that the “arbitral tribunal in London issued an Award confirming that the tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to resolve all disputes relating to Mahindra and Global Vehicles’ relationship, and it has directed Global Vehicles to stop all current litigation & not file any further litigation against Mahindra relating to the parties’ current dispute.”

Vehicle dealers and distributors are fairly well protected by US law from strong arm tactics or bullying by manufacturers under the Automobile Dealer’s Day in Court Act of 1956. By abandoning US litigation (at least for now), GV is kicking that blanket of protection off the bed. At this point, GV has consciously decided to commit all of their effort and confidence into the UK arbitration process.

Since a verdict isn’t expected until August of this year, expectant Mahindra fans have a long summer ahead to predict the results and debate what those results will mean for the way Mahindra vehicles will be distributed in the US. The good news is that this gives Mahindra time to perfect their products for an eventual US launch. The bad news is that established manufacturers appear to be on the brink of refreshing the small pickup market in the US.

As we have said many times before, the saga continues.