Looking for a U.S. sales debut this fall, Indian diesel pickup truck and SUV manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra has stepped up its dealer recruiting efforts to reach a goal of about 300 by rollout time.
“We've named over 250 dealers already and are negotiating with 50 more in spec points,” says Casey McGraw, sales vice-president for Mahindra importer Global Vehicles USA, which is based in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta.
Among dealers in the negotiation process are a number who lost domestic franchises this spring because of the rollback at Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Corp.
One is a Detroit market veteran, Doug North, owner of North Brothers in Westland, MI. He says he expects to be selling Mahindra pickups built in India for the first six months, after which the tractor manufacturer plans to offer U.S.-built vehicles, including an SUV.
A manufacturing partner, which Mahindra has yet to name, will assemble the pickups and SUVs in the U.S., thus sparing Mahindra the hit of a 25% tariff on truck imports.
Other Detroit area dealers joining the Mahindra roster include a pair detached by the Chrysler deletion of 789 U.S. dealers. They are Mt. Clemens Dodge and Lochmoor Chrysler-Jeep, Detroit.
“One door closes, and another opens,” says Lochmoor owner Gus Russo. “The time has come for diesel fuel, which sells in Michigan below that for regular 87-octane fuel.”
Global Vehicles said pickup trucks will be priced from $17,000 to $21,000, the SUV from $13,000 to $15,000. All vehicles will be equipped with 2.2-liter diesel engines and 6-speed automatic transmissions.
Mahindra is requiring its dealers to establish separate showrooms or buildings. A charter Mahindra dealer, Taylor Cadillac-Kia-Hyundai, of Toledo, OH, has done this after joining other early Mahindra dealers in a trip to the home facility in India.