The Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra is a huge player in its home market and is a multinational automotive giant that makes not only cars but also motorcycles, tractors, and commercial vehicles. Headquartered in Mumbai, India, they have been around since 1945. So it is safe to say they know a thing or two about being on top of the ever-evolving automotive market.
Fast-forward to 2022, and Mahindra has partnered with another automotive giant, the biggest one in the world – Volkswagen. And the goal of their partnership is to help both these companies stay on top of the trends seen in the automotive world, which unquestionably is the shift to electric vehicles.
We took a closer look at the possible outcomes of this coming-together of two auto giants, and the result could be something that could disrupt the US market in the coming years.
The Mahindra Roxor Saga In The US
Mahindra has already tried to establish itself in North America before, and it did not go as smoothly as they would have thought. Their bets were on the Mahindra Roxor, and it looked way too similar to the Jeep CJ. Even though the Roxor is not a road legal vehicle, but an offroad side-by-side ATV. It wasn’t a direct rip-off, because Mahindra had been making Jeep CJs under a license for decades, from the 1960s. And they were not the only ones making licensed Jeeps, because automakers like Mitsubishi and EBRO in Spain made them as well. But coming back to Mahindra, for a very long time, both Jeep and Mahindra stuck to their playing grounds. Jeep’s main focus being the American market and Mahindra’s main focus being the Indian market. It went on for years, and in between that time, Jeep changed ownership and eventually came under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – which then merged with PSA and is now known as the Stellantis.
Time went by, globalization happened, and it turns out that Mahindra now wants to sell cars in North America and Jeep entered the Indian market in 2016. With the similarities between the Jeep Wrangler and the Mahindra Roxor, the companies stopped seeing eye-to-eye, at least in the United States. Things went to the court, and FCA attempted to block the sales of the Roxor altogether. Mahindra said that their Roxor doesn’t directly compete with the Wrangler, but not everyone was convinced.
Long story short, Mahindra Roxor got barred from being sold in America. So they went back to the drawing board and came out with the new design for the Roxor. The International Trade Commission (ITC) in late 2020 said that now it no longer looked like the trademark Jeep and hence, lifted the cease and desist order. Mahindra got the green light.
Mahindra And Volkswagen Join Forces
While the Roxor was Mahindra’s first step into the American market, its new partnership with Volkswagen may open the door further for the Indian automaker. Mahindra has announced that it will introduce a slew of brand-new vehicles, some of which will be next-generation electric models for the global market. The partnership with Volkswagen suggests that these vehicles will be built on the proven VW’s Modular electric drive Matrix (MEB) platform.
What it tells us is that Mahindra has its sights set on the electric vehicle space. But what do these brands get out of each other? Volkswagen gets to work with a company with expertise in making cost-effective manufacturing processes and has access to manufacturing plants with huge manpower and an affordable workforce. This will help them bring down the cost of the MEB platform.
As for Mahindra, they get access to the MEB open vehicle design platform. It will allow them to fast track the development of an electric vehicle portfolio. Additionally, they get access to VW’s latest electric components such as electric motors, battery cells, and battery system components. All of this saves them a lot of research and development.
Mahindra’s ICE powered and EV converted models would not meet US emissions, or safety standards. However, Mahindra may now have the opportunity to start with fresh sheet of paper to built its next-generation electric vehicles with proven underpinning. A platform that could be suited to meet the requirements in developed markets like the US. It is possible that the Indian automaker may be able to explore an entry into other global markets like North America and expand its presence in the US. Mahindra will be introducing its Born Electric Vision in July when we believe further plans will be announced.
Mahindra’s introduction and perseverance with the Roxor is proof that the automaker looks to make its mark in the US and eventually graduate to offer passenger vehicles deemed fit for American roads. The partnership with Volkswagen might just be the key that unlocks that door for them.
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