At first glace, Mahindra’s decision to build and sell a new line of pickup trucks in the U.S. while other automakers cut back production would seem to be foolish to say the least. But, if these new vehicles were capable of class leading fuel efficiency, that might change some people’s minds in a hurry. That is exactly what Indian manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra intends to do in the next year and it may actually be successful.
There do exist a large number of people that not only like, but actually NEED to drive a truck. Assuming they can stomach buying a non-American brand and don’t need anything larger, M & M’s decision to sell pickups in North America might mark another blow to Detroit automakers who take great pride in their truck production. The factor in this success is the combined 30-35 mpg fuel numbers of the truck; a reflection of the diesel only engine. Mahindra is touting the pickup’s efficiency but the load-carrying capacity and towing capabilities that they claim will be on target with full size pickups currently available. Powered by a 2.2-liter common rail diesel engine that produces 150 horses and 300 pound feet of torque, Mahindra has spent nearly $80 million to ensure that their new pickup will pass all U.S. safety and emissions regulations. Direct competition for the “Appalachian” as the pickup has been called, will be the Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Although diesel is more expensive right now, Mahindra firmly believes that its choice of powerplant will be a big advantage over it gas counterparts. The price for the Appalachian will be in the mid-20 grand range.
But that is only the start of trucks in America for Mahindra. They also reportedly have plans to sell a midsize diesel hybrid version of its pickup by 2010 capable of over 40 mpg and selling for about 30 grand. Preceding the hybrid, Mahindra has teamed up with Navistar International to build a heavy duty truck that will be available at the end of 2009. Pickup production destined for the States will begin in India early next year, with final assembly done in Ohio to avoid import taxes. Those interested in buying Mahindra will be able to visit one of the nearly 300 existing dealers slated to sell the vehicles or one of 24 new dealerships under construction. Currently Mahindra sells about 200,000 vehicles per year in India and in 20 other countries around the globe.