By on November 18, 2009

Yes, but where are they actually?

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.

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11 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Mahindra MIA Edition...”

  • avatar

    So, they took one of those “Dark Sky” maps and replaced the white spots with red.  They sure is smart!

  • avatar

    I’m calling it “vaporware” again… still.
    The importer, GVAuto, tried to import Romanian ARO SUVs years ago, and promised, and promised, and sold dealerships under the CrossLander name. And nothing ever showed up. I predict the same for Mahindra.

  • avatar

    One of the former Dodge dealers right down the street includes a Mahindra logo on their new sign, if I’m not mistaken (Metro Detroit.) That said, I didn’t see any actual vehicles.

  • avatar

    The design of these is quite dated, the inside scream 1990 (light gray plastic). It’s ok to be basic to be so old looking…i don’t know.

  • avatar

    I think the timing is just bad. Who is going to introduce what is primarily a “fleet” product into the US market right now? It is prudent for them to wait. That time could be used to further refine the product for our market. I still look forward to seeing and driving it.
    Big three and Japanese mfrs (except the Ford Ranger) have abandoned the type of pickup I wantfor my business in favor of making what amount to overwieght luxury cars with a bed instead of a trunk.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    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. 

    • 0 avatar

      At least two of your diesel “downsides” are non-starters, Mr. Albright. Smoke and smelly exhaust went away in the last generation of small diesel engines, in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I can see this little diesel perhaps not having the NVH smoothness of a VW TDI, but for emissions purposes, it will have no choice but to be as clean as one.
      Your low-power argument is also a relative non-starter for many of us small pickup guys. My 2006 Ranger with the 2.3 Duratec four-pot makes a stunning 143 horsepower, so the Mahindra’s power is right in line, possibly a little less than the Ranger. The thing is, the Mahindra will have far more torque than my Ranger.
      The thing that will differentiate Mahindra isn’t just the diesel engine– it’s the carrying capacity. These little trucks are said to be outfitted for 5,000-lb towing capacity and a 1.3-ton haul capacity in the bed. Not a bad weekend toy hauler, considering it’ll get 30+ miles per gallon in normal commuting, unloaded. To get that towing capacity in my Ranger, you have to opt for the 4.0 V6 with a Class III tow hitch and settle for sub-20 mpg figures, unless your commute is downhill both ways.
      I’ll grant you the market size concerns. But Mahindra is wise, I think, to hedge its bets on fuel prices going ever-higher and more US truck buyers looking to “right-size” their next pickup. It won’t hurt in the beginning that a fairly large community of compact truck lovers like myself will be anxious to give these little trucks a close look– by the time they actually release a Mahindra stateside, my Ranger will probably be getting close to trade-in age.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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). 

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    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. 

  • avatar

    Since Mahindra has been selling tractors in the US for 15 years 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.

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