While the rest of the country sets into the pace of Make-in-India, Mahindra and Mahindra have been in the news recently for setting up shop in the US. Mahindra’s operations in the North America was set up in 2013 under the moniker ‘MANA’ which stands for Mahindra Automotive North America. Their base of operations in Detroit, which was once considered the car manufacturing capital of the world, recently saw the MANA plant which has been four years and $ 230 million USD in the making open its doors for the first time this week. For now, the plant will focus on manufacturing MANA’s Roxor( an off-road ute that’s likely to rival the likes of the Polaris RZR series), but we suspect that the Polaris challenger is not the only thing in MANA’s plans from the US. As of right now, the Detroit plant employs 250 people, but Mahindra has revealed that a 400 more employees and a further investment of $600 million USD are to follow in the next three years.
At face value, the plant which will start production of the Roxor early 2018, aims to build trust as one of the front-runners in the US’s off-road space. “We hope that we will gradually creep into the consciousness of the American consumer as the maker of very rugged, sturdy SUV and crossover vehicles,” Mahindra told Automotive News. “So I think it’s more about a brand journey than about a journey of investment.” A brand journey? Well here’s a look at this slightly more macroscopically, with all the information that we have about Mahindra. For one, of all the manufacturers in the sub-continent, Mahindra has always had the front-run in terms of electric cars. The only one to have a running Formula Electric racing car. Thus far the US and more specifically silicon valley have been testing grounds for more than one electric car company the likes of Tesla and Faraday Future. A strong market segment in the US could very well be a learning curve for Mahindra, for techs like Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, battery technology and a whole lot more.
This is further consecrated by Anand Mahindra’s open-ended statement comparing MANA to Tesla at the launch saying that even though breaking into the US market was a daunting task, people like Elon Musk ( Tesla’s infamous founder, and tour de force in the automotive industry) saying that “How many people told Elon Musk, ‘You don’t have any hope of getting into the car business’?”
Overall, this seems more of a premeditated move by Mahindra who will continue to play to its strengths, entering the market in the off-road space where they already have a tremendous head start and decades worth of R&D in the field. Later they can use the Detroit facility to further in-roads in other fields as MANA’s CEO Rick Haas told NYTimes at the plant opening “None of us really know where this journey will take us, But we are here to expand Mahindra’s auto business in the U.S.”
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