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Mahindra returns
2 June 2006

Author: Richard Yarrow

Indian car brand Mahindra is returning to the UK after a decade away and is in talks to find a distributor.

Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra’s automotive division, already knows exactly what he wants.

“We are looking to create a dealer network, but we won’t be in multi-franchised showrooms,” he says.

“Whoever becomes our distributor will have to open Mahindra sites. We have minimum standards, and each must to be able to display three cars comfortably. We want people to be able to walk around the cars because we are creating an image for the company but also for India.”

Mahindra’s first offering will be the Goa, a seven- or eight-seat SUV with a 2.6-litre 115bhp common-rail turbodiesel engine. It’s already on sale in Italy, France and Spain, and is due in the UK mid-2007. In GLX trim the big 4x4 gets central locking, air-con, power windows, two airbags and optional leather trim.

Bosses hope to sell up to 1,000 cars per year in the UK, and while it’s too early for prices, in Spain the Goa costs €21,000 (£14,300).

Next to arrive will be a workhorse pick-up – the Pik-Up – which will feature the same diesel engine.

Mahindra was founded in Mumbai in 1945 and is still based there today. Its last UK car was the Classic, a Jeep Wrangler copy built under licence from Chrysler. Distributed by Motor Industry Group, it sold in tiny numbers and was axed in 1996. In 2002, Mahindra launched new vehicles designed in-house, and last year topped 150,000 sales globally. All but a fraction were in India.

Goenka believes the Goa will sell to farmers and the rural community in the UK.

He recognizes Mahindra will have an image problem to overcome. “We have found that once people get to know our product, the negativity doesn’t last too long,” he says.
SOURCE: AMONLINE
 

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There is a green mahindra in the village - to be honest they look quite snazzy and are fairly well built. It is M reg. The 2.6 engine featured in the Goa and Pik up - is it an old engine? the power seems low for this size of engine despite the fact its a diesel.
 

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Mahindra is a cool company, they still build variants of a 1950's era Willys Overland jeep, which I believe the Indian military still uses. Far cheaper and more practical than a Hummvee at any rate. Mahindra farm tractors have been available in the US for some time now, I think they also sell generators and the like. Their new SUVs look quite modern, and given their experience with military vehicles, the durability must be pretty good.
 

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Mahindra Returns

Mahindra Returns
Indian carmaker in talks with distributors to set up retail network
(source: AM: June 2 2006)


Indian car brand Mahindra is returning to the UK after a decade away and is in talks to find a distributor.

Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra's automotive division, already knows exactly what he wants.

"We are looking to create a dealer network, but we won't be in multi-franchised show-rooms," he says.

"Whoever becomes our distributor will have to open Mahindra sites. We have minimum standards, and each must be able to display three cars comfortably. We want people o be able to walk around the cars because we are creating an image for the company but also for India."

Mahindra's first offering will be the Goa, a seven or eight-seat SUV with a 2.6 litre 115bhp common-rail turbodiesel engine. It's already on sale in Italy, France and Spain, and is due into the UK mid-2007. In GLX trim the big 4x4 gets central locking, air-con, power windows, two airbags and optional leather trim.

Bosses hope to sell up to 1,000 cars per year in the UK, and while it's too early for prices, in Spain the Goa costs €21,000 (£14,300).

Next to arrive will be a workhorse pick-up - the Pik-Up - which will feature the same diesel engine.

Mahindra was founded in Mumbai in 1945 and is still based there today. Its last UK car was the classic - a Jeep Wrangler copy built under licence from Chrysler. Distributed by Motor Industry Group, it sold in tiny numbers and was axed in 1996.

In 2002, Mahindra launched new vehicles designed in-house, and last year topped 150,000 sales globally. All but a fraction were built in India.



Goenka believes the Goa will sell to farmers and the rural community in the UK. He recognises Mahindra will have an image problem to overcome. "We have found that once people get to know our product, the negativity doesn't last too long," he says.
I have to say, the pictures don't make it look too bad. Just so long as it is better than the Mahindra Classic. I had the dubious pleasure of driving one of those once and I have to say it was awful: it was based on the original Jeep and did not appear to have any concessions to modern day driving, except for an underpowered smokey old diesel engine.

It was horrid - jumpy ride, sloppy steering, no power to speak of, huge amounts of smoke (even when brand new!), excrutiating seats and a horrible driving position. Really, really nasty and one to be avoided.
 

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What a hideous old turd-crate. Pass the crusher!

Just waiting for the inevitable 'Come on, it's not so bad... would have made a nice MGR 4x4 if the price had been right' comment from some our resident rose-tinters.
 

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Mr_Censored said:
What a hideous old turd-crate. Pass the crusher!

Just waiting for the inevitable 'Come on, it's not so bad... would have made a nice MGR 4x4 if the price had been right' comment from some our resident rose-tinters.
I resent that... :D

However, I concur, that really is an abomination, and the UK doesn't really need any more cheap, badly made 4x4s on the road. Not to mention tacky-looking and dated...
 

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What a hideous old turd-crate. Pass the crusher
It's always better to experiance something oneself before passing comment....

I've just returned from 2 weeks in India that included a 200 mile drive in one of these. (Being driven as a passenger - you don't drive yourself in India unless you've got a death wish)

Speaking as a passenger and relating it to Indian road conditions it was fine. Road conditions in India are very very tough. For a vehicle to last it has to be robustly built. Otherwise it'll fall apart in a matter of weeks. The build quality in terms of toughness of this car was OK - its built to survive on Indian roads.
Where this vehicle falls way behind the European competion will be in areas like trim quality, equipment and driveablity - it can't compare to something like a MK3 Disco, but for rural folks who need a rugged 4x4 and can't afford the £25K+ price tag for a new Disco, Shogun etc, then spending 50% on this may make sense - which is exactly the niche where the company is marketing the product.

 

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It looks like they've tried to copy the suzuki jimny at the front. Initial opinion from me based on looking at the car is that is average - in places it looks dated, particularly around the windows - is it based on an old design?. 115bhp out of a 2.6 diesel engine seems a bit low - alike the awful 90bhp 1.9 unit in the tata safari. Whoever drives on has the valid opinion in this case.
 

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Some of these car manufacturers entering the value market (things like kia, this mahindra jobby and so on) as foreign outsiders need to pay the price to get a good European designer on board, so taht people dont look at these things and go "**** is it the 80's again??"
 

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“Whoever becomes our distributor will have to open Mahindra sites. We have minimum standards, and each must to be able to display three cars comfortably."
NO multi-franchise sites ?! Big gamble for someone to open a Mahindra only forecourt . I can see it ending in tears .
 

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Hmmmm - Surely the real issue here is their aspirations as regards a dealer network.

For them to say that they want stand alone dealers with room enough to display three vehicles in the showroom- off their heads!

I, for one, would not want to invest in an, for the main part, in an unknown brand in a stand alone showroom. I cannot see how the numbers would add up to a profitable business.

Thing is if they went in a multi brand enviroment they would benefit from a far higher foot fall and hopefully higher sales.


Scott.
 

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Its a tata safari rival - I would rather have this than the tata put it that way.

Same formats - 4x4 and pick up, probably with an old and underpowered diesel engine with a complete lack of refinement.
Now that the link between rover and tata has been broken, are tata's still imported into the uk because auto express are still stating that tata has 46 dealerships in the uk. (Not necessarily in their name)
 

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Liam Olf said:
However, I concur, that really is an abomination, and the UK doesn't really need any more cheap, badly made 4x4s on the road. Not to mention tacky-looking and dated...
And I concur with your concurrence! In an age of soaring oil prices, the last thing we could possibly need is this shed
 

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" I would rather have this than the tata put it that way"That's a bit like saying you would rather be boiled alive than roasted at the stake. They are going to have to do better than that to compete here - it isn't all about being the cheapest.</p>
 

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" I would rather have this than the tata put it that way"That's a bit like saying you would rather be boiled alive than roasted at the stake.
I understand your point but If I was in India and that was the choice of the two hire cars I'd go with the mahindra.
 

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The old Austin Ambassador (Hindustani Wotsit) would be better than both I suspect - of which I saw a pink one in London the other day. There is a taxi firm that uses a few of them & do them up like Indian taxis! I love that off the wall behaviour!Mahindra will have a big uphill struggle with that though, even if it is just getting past the initial hurdle of the name.
 

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SLARTIBARTFAST said:
The old Austin Ambassador (Hindustani Wotsit) would be better than both I suspect - of which I saw a pink one in London the other day. There is a taxi firm that uses a few of them & do them up like Indian taxis! I love that off the wall behaviour!Mahindra will have a big uphill struggle with that though, even if it is just getting past the initial hurdle of the name.
Isn't it a Morris Oxford?
 

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I suspect this will fall flat on its face. The original Mahindra in the UK sold slowly but surely - the UK importer wasn't a million miles away from me and they sold a few over the years.

The car was just too primative to do well. Had it had a more powerful engine, improved steering and better interior fittings and seats, it may have got itself a following. Sadly it didn't and the marque just never took a hold.

I agree that they're living in cuckoo land if they think they're going to get many dealers. Multi-franchise has to be the way ahead for this sort of vehicle.

Get a strong dealer network, however, and something could be done.

If it were me, this is how I would do it:

Firstly, the car would need to be brought up to the right standard to sell in the UK. Mahindra would have to invest in getting their product right in order to get the right image. I would also be pushing for a chipped version with more power - 140bhp would be great - making the car better for towing and general field work.

I'd also push Mahindra to do a version that would run on untreated vegetable oil: not to encourage people to break the law, but so that farmers and businesses using 4x4s could buy tax-paid vegetable oil in 300 gallon drums and run their vehicles at a fraction of the price of a normal diesel vehicle as a carbon neutral vehicle. One in the eye for the environmentalists, and saving a wedge of cash at the same time.

Next, I'd make arrangements with the AA for every one of their Service Centres to become accredited Mahindra service agents. I'd also go to Charlie Brown's and arrange a similar thing. That would give me 150-odd service agents around the country: enabling people to buy a Mahindra wherever they lived around the country, without fear that they wouldn't be able to get it maintained and serviced locally.

Then, I would target every TATA dealer to get them to switch, plus target every Proton and Perodua dealer to get them to take on Mahindra as a non-competing brand. Every Perodua dealer I have ever seen has been in a village or a semi-rural environment, so this would be ideal.

In order to sell 1,000 Mahindras a year, I would suggest you need to have around 60 dealers. If you have a service network in place in addition to these 60 dealers, you will encourage people to buy one even if they live some way away from their local dealer.

Marketing such a vehicle shouldn't be too difficult. I'd get them along to every horsing event and dog show in the country, every country and county show, offer off-road driving course competitions, mailshot every farmer, hunting lodge and horse riding school in the UK every few months... that should do it.

To build up a reputation and an image for the marque, I'd specify a mud plugger sports version with a chipped engine and off-road tyres for a one-make hill climbing and mud plugging championship. Each round would be filmed and shown on TV (probably one of the millions of satellite channels who would snap them up for a small consideration... to include Mahindra advertisements), with a generous pot of money for competition winners. When not competing in races, the muddied up cars would be used for promotional events, or shown at dealer showrooms.

Customers would be invited to attend off-road driving courses, skid-pan training sessions and the alike, encouraging enthusiastic ownership for the marque and ensuring continued sales growth for the future.

The Mahindra needs to be sold with a good warranty and servicing package, keeping the cost of ownership down as low as possible. Some good leasing packages would help as well.

If it were sold with a five-year 100,000 mile warranty, five-years free servicing, five-years free AA cover and a free courtesy car when required, for a total cost of around £295 a month it could sell respectably well to farmers and rural people who need a 4x4 - horsey-type people, for instance. Even more so if it was running on low-cost carbon-neutral vegetable oil.
 
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