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Indian Automaker to Bring SUVs to US; Diesel-Electric Hybrids to Follow

19 November 2006

New York Times. India’s leading sport utility maker—Mahindra & Mahindra—plans to sell its SUVs and pickup trucks in the United States through an American distributor, bringing Indian-made vehicles to the United States for the first time.

The company will sell its vehicles through Global Vehicles USA., a distributor based in Alpharetta, Ga. Global will import the first group of the Indian vehicles in about a year and distribute them through a dealer network. The distributor said it had signed on 130 dealers so far and would add another 70 in the coming months.

“Half of the global sales in S.U.V.’s and pickups is in the United States and we want to capture at least a fraction of that to start with,” said Pawan Goenka, president of the automotive division of Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian manufacturer. The United States is the “ultimate market,” he said in a telephone interview from Mumbai.

Last week, Mahindra & Mahindra announced a joint venture with Renault to build a greenfield plant in India with a capacity of 500,000 cars a year, starting in 2009.

Mahindra plans to initially introduce a sport utility vehicle and a pickup in the US. A diesel-electric hybrid version of the SUV would follow.

In January, Mahindra & Mahindra unveiled its concept of the Scorpio diesel hybrid—a hybrid SUV that it said at the time would require another three to four years to be commercialized. The Scorpio SUV hybrid delivers 15-16 km/liter—approximately 6.7 to 6.25 l/100 km, or approximately 35 to 37 mpg US.

It was not clear whether the S.U.V.’s and pickups that Mahindra planned to export to the United States would run on diesel fuel or gasoline. All major manufacturers of diesel passenger vehicles except Mercedes-Benz have withdrawn from the United States market because of difficulties in meeting stricter standards for the 2007 model year.

Mahindra, the world’s fourth-largest maker of tractors, already sells tractors for farming use in the United States and has three local assembly plants there.

(A belated hat-tip to Allen!)

November 19, 2006 in Diesel, Hybrids, India | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Hmm, it's not like there's a dearth of SUV and pickup manufacturing capacity in the US right now. As for diesels, afaik neither Mahindra & Mahindra nor Renault have any IP of their own related to HCCI, NOx aftertreatment or DPFs. Without any those, achieving Tier 2 Bin 5 is widely considered infeasible. And diesel hybrids are more complex still. Whenever someone tries to enter a crowded, mature market with unproven, brand-new technology, they are taking a huge gamble.

On the other hand, don't underestimate tractor manufacturers. Lamborghini used to build them until Ferrari gave him the brush-off. India is to the world economy today roughly what Italy was to Europe in the 60s: poor but bright.

Notice that the US importer is the same company that was supposed to bring the Cross Lander from Romania.

We need to get from "The United States is the “ultimate market,”" to The United States is a very demanding market - requiring much greater efficiencies and lower emissions

In an interesting extension of the comparison between Italy and India -- an Indian manufacturer currently does have a vehicle other than tractors operating in the US these days. Bajaj imported two four-stroke, 150cc scooter models, the Legend and the Chetak, which were sold in the US beginning in 2002. The original design was a licensed version of the Italian Vespa, and has been in production for decades. Sadly for scooter enthusiasts, Bajaj is discontinuing scooter production in favor of motorcycles and automobiles.

Its curb (Kerb) weight is akin to an Envoy or FJ cruiser, and a bit more than a Highlander.

http://auto.indiamart.com/cars/mahindra-scorpio/popup-3.html

Any chance the SUV lovers could export the REVA to the States?

They are using the same company that Mercedes is using for the clean diesel technology. They will enter under the GreenTEC name and have all the same clean features.

The sell appeal of these vehicles will be the 30 - 40 mpgs. I actually saw some models at the Atlanta Auto show, and the interior quality was very VERY nice. I was supprised. They may have a winner.

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