What's Wrong With This Picture: Mahindra MIA Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Autoblog ran this picture purporting to show the locations of future dealers of Mahindra and Mahindra pickup trucks. This piqued our interest because we’ve been curious to see how the Indian firm’s plans to bring diesel-only compact pickups and SUVs to the US market would play out for some time. Over a year ago Mahindra said it would be delaying its US launch (originally planned for Spring 2009) until the fourth quarter of 2009 because, as Mr Mahindra himself put it “my family’s name is going onto this vehicle, and it’s not going to fail.” Well, here we are in the fourth quarter, and Mahindra is still calling the dots on the map “potential” outlets. They’ve also apparently pushed back the launch date again, to the first quarter of 2010. Automotive News [sub] reported way back when that Mahindra’s distributors (Global Vehicles USA) were asking for $200,000 in franchise fees. Maybe finding folks willing to pay that amount for the honor of selling diesel-only compact trucks and utes are hard to come by. Either way, it’s getting to be defecate-or-get-off-the-pot time.

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Nov 19, 2009

    Over on the truck and SUV boards where I spend a lot of my online time, people are fairly drooling over the possibility of a small diesel pickup or SUV. But I'm skeptical. For one thing, there is a fair amount of a "grass is greener" aspect to the diesel lust. It's easy to lust after small diesels because we don't have them here, which means enthusiasts can obsess over the benefits (improved MPG, better torque, less maintenance) and remain ignorant of the downsides (smelly, smoky exhaust, noise, low power, and while maintenance is less frequent, it's generally more expensive, etc.) In the days when a 5,000lb SUV with a 290hp engine is considered "adequate" it's hard to imagine a ~180hp motor being acceptable to daily commuters. The second reason I'm skeptical is because breaking into the US car market is not something that is easy to do. Seems to me you have to do one of two things: Either offer something nobody else offers (the diesel could fill this role, although I predict once the gloss wears off most ordinary consumers will pass diesels by) or offer the same thing as everyone else but at a bargain-basement price. I also remain skeptical about the size of the 'we need a real compact truck' market. You hear people saying it a lot (on this site in particular) but the whole reason that compact trucks have gotten so porky as of late is because when US consumers had the choice of a smaller truck or a bigger one, they went for the bigger one almost without exception. In a free market system, the buyer is always right and if there was any kind of demand out there for a "real" small truck a la the original Toyota Hilux or the original Ford Ranger, someone would be making them now. I agree with the above posts, Mahindra might be better off waiting a few years and refining their product before bringing it to the US market.

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    • Kweeks10045 Kweeks10045 on Dec 14, 2009

      The Mahindra truck has a tremendous potential in the Texas market. I am a territory Manager for a diesel engine parts and fuel related components company. We are a Master Distributor for Bosch diesel products as well as Garrett/Honeywell, Cummins, Holset, Stanadyne, etc. The engine and transmission products that Mahindra has selected are the best in the market. The fuel system is the same type used on Cummins, Duramax, and the new 2011 Ford Powerstrokes. The turbo is reportedly Garrett, once again in use by Ford, GM, and Navistar. The Aisin/Warner TF-60SN transmission is used by VW, Audi, Volvo, Mazda, Vauxhall, and Saab. It has been used since 2003 and is still one of the premier 6 speed automatics available. The Aisin driveline components are shared by Toyota, Suzuki, and Isuzu, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Mitsubishi. Overall, the components that have been selected appear to be top notch. All the the parts are available here in the states already. Styling may be an issue for some. It does have the "1974 Toyota" look. I have seen some lift kits available overseas. Six inches up front, four inches out back, and a nice set of rims with 35" tires on it, and I think everyone will change there tune. Especially if it gets anywhere close to 30 mpg. Next thing you know, they will be offering Bullydog chips and performance turbos for the thing.

  • 1998S90 1998S90 on Nov 19, 2009

    I don't see enough demand in big truck country, aka Oklahoma and Texas, to support 20+ dealerships. Obviously, these won't be stand alone dealerships, but I don't see existing dealerships paying a $200k franchise fee to sell a few compact diesel pickups with thin margins (after the novelty factor and attendant "market value adjustment" wear off).

  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Nov 19, 2009

    Well, I guess we'll see if I have any better luck today commenting on TTAC. (The last 3 or 4 postings I entered over the past week haven't shown up). Re: Mahindra; well, I'm pretty sure that this will work out about as poorly as the Isuzu diesel car episode did in the mid-1960's. A small, private, California importer started bringing in diesel (only) versions of the Isuzu Bellel, which was more-or-less a (poorly) rebodied Hillman. Isuzu even admitted as much, having previously had a license to build Hillmans in Japan for Japan. Tiny, private importer. Check. Diesel engines only. Check. Vehicles out of the mainstream in size. Check. Unknown brand in America. Check. Virtually untested nation of origin in America. Check. Yep, I suspect Mahindra will follow the way of "Trans-Alpac Corp, Burbank" in selling vehicles for a short time here then folding up and blowing away. Perhaps in a decade, after the fiasco, they'll be back selling vehicles rebadged as a major player. Just as happened to Isuzu.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Nov 19, 2009

    Since Mahindra has been selling tractors in the US for 15 years http://www.mahindrausa.com/ and already has assembly plants over here why aren't they using the existing tractor distribution and sales network? They have have physical plant, systems and people who understand getting vehicles from ships to end users, and if you already have a diesel tractor, then a diesel truck is a logical future purchase.