Our October 2002 issue featured a story on the then little known Mahindra & Mahindra Scorpio brand. The Scorpio since has driven into showrooms across five continents and won a trunk full of awards. The Scorpio is known as ‘Mahindra Goa’ in Europe.
It is the flagship for the Mahindra automotive sector, which is part of the US $4 billion Mahindra conglomerate. The group has significant presence in farm equipment, infrastructure, information technology and financial services. Forbes puts Mahindra in its Top 200 list of the World’s Most Reputable Companies and in the Top 10 list of Most Reputable Indian companies.
“Our company’s technical prowess is proven by negligible import content in our vehicle and by the design and development of a totally, from ground upward, new contemporary SUV — Scorpio,” says Dr Pawan Goenka (President, Automotive Sector). He talks to Automotive Industries (AI) about the company’s entry into the US market and manufacturing partnerships:
Goenka: The U.S. is the largest market for SUVs and pickups. For us as niche players, being successful in this market is undoubtedly an opportunity waiting to be conquered. Achieving success in this highly competitive market would definitely mean a lot to us as a company.
We are in the process of getting ready with the specific requirements of USA. Our products will definitely meet all these requirements when we launch.
AI: What are the challenges you are facing in entering U.S market?
Goenka: Every new market is a challenge in its own way since the customers have different expectations and also the regulatory environment is different. We have already started selling in Europe and will soon be in Australia. The US therefore is a logical progression. It’s different because while these other regions follow the Euro based norms, the US has its own different safety and emission norms. Our challenge is to give the right product for the market based on our ability of offering a “Value for Money” proposition.
AI: As the first Indian brand in the US, do you feel any special pressures?
Goenka: We have taken up the challenge of being the first Indian Automotive manufacturer to sell a vehicle in the US market and therefore we also in a way take on the responsibility for creating Indian automotive brand in USA. By the way, this challenge is not new to our group as Mahindra is already a player in the small tractor segment in the US.
AI: How are the joint-ventures with Renault and the International Truck and Engine Corporation coming along?
Goenka: Our Joint venture investment with Renault is 125 million euros. Renault invested 49% of the equity. More than 95% of the planned investments have been made. All the activities are on time. The manufacturing facility is and we are gearing up for the launch in the first half of this year.
We recently announced plans to set up a green field plant in western India to manufacture commercial trucks through a joint venture with US-based truck major International Truck and Engine Corp. The JV will produce medium and heavy commercial vehicles designed and developed with in-house capabilities. Production is expected to commence in two years. The factory will include cab assembly, vehicle assembly, and a paint shop. The vehicles will have 90 percent local content from the start due to the strong availability of quality parts and materials from Indian suppliers.
AI: What makes M&M different?
Goenka: Our ability of offering a “Value for Money” proposition as well as our diesel engine lineage is the USP and this helps us differentiate from others in the global market-place.