Ford and Mahindra Hop Deeper Into Bed; Joint SUVs Planned

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford and mahindra hop deeper into bed joint suvs planned

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 [s]CJ[/s] 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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  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 24, 2018

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

  • Phila_DLJ Phila_DLJ on Mar 26, 2018

    Who thought blacking out the A-pillars like that was a good idea. Folks, I tell you it is not.

    • Ect Ect on Mar 26, 2018

      If I'm seeing it right, everything above the beltline is blacked out, including the roof. Your conclusion stands, though.

  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.