Diversified Indian conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra is “very bullish” will “double” its bets in the US, Executive Chairman Anand Mahindra said, underscoring that the company is a “big believer” in America and in its talent. “We believe in America. I am sure you all wonder how the rest of the world is looking at America in this world of President Donald Trump,” Mahindra told a group of reporters here yesterday. He said there can be arguments about immigration and whether immigration will hurt talent in America. “But that is something that will have an effect may be 5-10 years down the road. But for the moment, the cycle seems to be very much in favour of a very robust US economy,” he said, adding that it is not for him to say whether that has happened as a result of former US President Barack Obama’s policies finally having incubated or whether it is a result of Trump’s focus of ‘Make in America’. “We do know that we are very very big believers in America and in its talent. We are going to double our bets in America,” he said. Mahindra and Mahindra Managing Director Pawan Goenka said the team of Mahindra Automotive North America is working on an off-road utility vehicle that is expected to be launched in the US within this year.
A manufacturing facility for those vehicles is likely to come up in Michigan, he said. “The team is doing complete vehicle development for Mahindra. So it is a situation of reversal where an Indian company is going to the US and setting up a technical centre here to draw upon the US expertise of engineers to do global product development,” Goenka said. Responding to a question by PTI on concerns over the rise of a protectionist attitude in the US given President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ focus, Mahindra said “I think a lot of it is rhetoric. The world is far too inter- connected for people to untangle that web that already exists. “A lot of the tangled webs that constitute global trade are going to surface. I think the rhetoric is going to be softened,” he said.
Mahindra added that he does not blame Trump for his focus on increasing investments in the country. “If his statements are going to make people think a little harder about investing in America, so be it. This will contribute to the growth of the US economy,” he said. “We are very bullish, we are going to double our bets here. We are thrilled about that because we had already decided to invest in assembly, manufacturing. We are cheering that statement on. It is not that we are jumping on the bandwagon. We were the bandwagon,” he said.
On plans of the company to manufacture cars for the US market, Goenka said as of now the company is not thinking of making cars for the US market. Mahindra owns a 72 per cent stake in Korean automotive company SsangYong Motor and it is currently in the process of doing market research to find out whether SsangYong vehicles’ could make sense in the US. That is going to be our on road vehicle entry in the US if we decide it makes sense for us,” Goenka said.
On the electric vehicles in the market in India, Mahindra said the Indian government’s 2030 target of all-electric cars is aspirational. “In India, we’ve suffered from a poverty of aspirations, not just a poverty of income,” Mahindra said. “I am very delighted that this current (Indian) government does not lack the courage to make statements like this,” he said.
He said the prospect of 250 to 300 million households owning conventional cars is “a nightmare for the globe, not just for India”. “You’re going to have to move towards fleet sharing and you’re going to have to move towards electric,” he added.