Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is set to make a new attempt at tapping the US market. An assembly plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan, scheduled to be inaugurated on November 20 is be the base.
It's not surprising to know that the first product from the utility vehicle major will be an off-roader there. "This product that we are launching is developed in Detroit, taking one of the Mahindra products as the base," says Dr Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra. He also categorically confirmed that the off-roader will be only for the US market.
Autocar Professional learns from sources that an off-roader based on the Mahindra Thar – to be called the Thor – is lined up for launch in the USA. The new vehicle will be powered by an engine borrowed from SsangYong's Tivoli, says an industry source. It could be the SUV's 1.6-litre engine which meets Euro VI emission norms. The first vehicle from M&M's Detroit plant could be the Thor, or an UTV (Utility Task Vehicle). A UTV is like an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) but has a wider and longer body, offering side-by-side seating arrangement and rollover protection. Some UTVs also have a cargo box at the rear of the vehicle.
Mahindra's first off-roader in the USA will fall in a category of vehicles meant for recreational purposes or commercial use but cannot ply on the roads, except maybe from the home to the farm or to an off-road course. These vehicles need to meet safety and emission norms that are not as stringent as the norms for road-going vehicles.
It is not the first time that M&M is making an attempt to enter the American passenger vehicle market. A Scorpio-based pick-up was planned for that market and dealers were appointed too, but plans ran into rough weather, ending in a legal dispute with the OEM's dealers. That was around five years ago. The strategy this time around is quite different. M&M has invested in building a plant, reportedly the first one in south-east Michigan in over 25 years. This move was preceded by setting up the Mahindra North America Technical Centre four years ago in Troy, Michigan, to “leverage the automotive talent and intellect surrounding Detroit”.
The new plant is less than an hour's drive from Ford Motor Co's global headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Mahindra and Ford have embarked on exploring a potential alliance in multiple areas including sourcing, product development and also improving Mahindra's reach outside India and Ford's within India. Dr Goenka says, among other things, both OEMs are very bullish on shared mobility and electric vehicles. According to sources, Mahindra and Ford could come together to enter the EV market in the US too.
M&M today announced its financial results for the second quarter, reporting a net profit of Rs 1,332 crore (25 percent YoY growth) on a revenue of Rs 12,182 crore (6 percent YoY growth) during the quarter.