By on March 23, 2018

Image: Ford India

China got a headstart in the “countries with over a billion people who suddenly love owning a car” race, but India’s trying its best to catch up.

With a growing pool of consumers ready and willing to hand over cash for a car, Ford Motor Company knows partnering with a local company that knows the lay of the land is a speedier and cheaper route to profits, so last year it formed an alliance with Mahindra Group. You know Mahindra — the company currently building a retro Jeep-shaped ATV for nostalgic Americans.

This week, the two companies further consummated their bond by signing off on the joint development of SUVs.

On Thursday, Mahindra and Ford put fresh ink on five non-binding memoranda of understanding (MoU) and promised to put the pedal down on the creation of new utility vehicles for Indian buyers. Those buyers know Ford pretty well. After all, the EcoSport went on sale in the subcontinent years ago. Ford sales in India rose last year, along with exports. The country as a whole set a new-car sales record, pushing above the 4 million vehicle mark in 2017.

Mahindra is no stranger to building SUVs. After all, what rugged Indian doesn’t lust after a rugged Mahindra CJ Thar?

The first vehicle off the shared drawing board is a mid-sized SUV built on a Mahindra platform, Ford claims. Both companies will also look at creating a compact SUV and an electric vehicle together. The alliance goes further than that, however, as Ford and Mahinda also agreed to share powertrains amongst themselves.

Also in the works is a suite of connected car technology to help bring the Indian driver into the 21st century. There’s a large safety component in this initiative, as Indian roads and highways are not famous for strict laws and laid-back driving habits.

“Listening to our customers and incorporating their future needs is the core premise of this collaboration,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, in a statement. “With utility vehicles and electrification as key focus areas, we are glad to see the progress our two companies have made.”

For its help in assisting Ford’s overseas business, Mahindra gets access to the Blue Oval’s manufacturing and distribution network, thus helping the domestic automaker in the export market. This latest phase of the corporate relationship covers a period of three years.

[Image: Ford India]

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9 Comments on “Ford and Mahindra Hop Deeper Into Bed; Joint SUVs Planned...”

  • avatar

    Ford and Mahindra? They should call their first SUV the “Roman Candle”.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I wish Ford well, but somehow I don’t think it will work out unless Ford has paradigm shift in how it operates outside of the US, like GM and Chrysler.

    Ford as an institution has some cultural business challenges it needs to tend to. Ford tends to micromanage and this micromanagement with the idea “I know boats” sometimes doesn’t translate into a successful partnership with outsiders.

  • avatar

    “Mahindra is no stranger to building SUVs.”

    Apparently not. They show 16, yes sixteen, different suvs here (plus cars and trucks):

    Based on the unenthusiastic reviews you can read on the Echosport from ’round this crazy old world, maybe Mahindra can help Ford out. On some things they need help.

  • avatar

    Here, good people, is the answer to the the burning question of what you can do to make an Ecosport even more lane: add a painted black roof.

    That’s some next-level ugly s**t, folks.

  • avatar

    I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here.

    This is good for Mahrinda. They make a certain class of vehicle and it’s not competitive in other markets. Ford has the capability to quickly refine Mahrinda’s product, giving them a chance.

    As much as people want to say Ford killed Jaguar, nothing could be further from the truth. Less than a year of Ford ownership, Jaguar reliability went from nonexistant to manageable. Over the years, Jaguar sales increased ten fold, while maintaining what it meant to be a Jag. Can’t say the same for Tata.

    What I don’t understand is why Ford wants to do this. Maybe there’s a big check involved.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Why not Tata? I was always driven when I was India, in a Land Rover.

  • avatar

    Who thought blacking out the A-pillars like that was a good idea.

    Folks, I tell you it is not.

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