Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., a manufacturer that has made cars in India since 1949 is planning to release a fuel efficient truck in 2009 with a hybrid engine option to be released in 2010. Global Vehicles USA Inc. will distribute these diesel powered trucks made by the manufacturer that has sold over 50,000 tractors in the past decade.
Mahindra faces many critics due to expected trends in pickup sales and the brand loyalty of truck users. Historically, foreign truck manufactures such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have had difficulty breaking into the U.S. market even as established vehicle producers. Three hundred dealers have already signed up to distribute the trucks. Cadillac dealer Steven Taylor of Toledo, OH, has invested over $1 million in order to become a distributor and justifies the risk by saying, “Trucks and an SUV that get over 30 mpg is a market niche that will get noticed.”
The Scorpio, a compact SUV, and the Appalachian, the manufacturer’s pickup model, will get 30 mpg in the city and as much as 37 mpg on the highway, comparable to the Ford Escape hybrid which is reported to get 30 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
Mahindra’s 2009 budget for these vehicles is $20 million which is less than 10 percent of Toyota’s budget for the launch of the Tundra pickup. The goal is to sell 18,000 vehicles in the second half of 2009 and 45,000 vehicles in 2010. Mahindra, realizing the difficulty in persuading those already loyal to particular brands, will target those who consider themselves as “green” conscious, purchasers of Mahindra tractors, and the 3 million Indian emigrants living in the U.S. Promotions will primarily be online while television and print ads will be limited.