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M&M plans to roll out diesel trucks in US
UTILITY and tractor major Mahindra & Mahindra is stepping up plans to launch diesel-powered pick-up trucks in the US, even as global carmakers such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Ford have put similar pickup launches in the US, on hold.
People connected with the development said the Mumbaibased company wants to cash in on the opportunity created by the disinterest of global majors, by competitively pricing its products in the American market, which is slowly limping back after getting mauled in the slowdown.
Global carmakers had put off showcasing their diesel products, after the credit squeeze seen post the Lehman Brothers’ collapse, and also because of the shift in focus with the launch of alternate-powered vehicles such as hybrid cars.
By December 2009, M&M plans to launch the diesel-powered two-door and four-door pick-up trucks. While there are no concrete plans to launch the hybrids, the Scorpio will be launched a year later.
M&M is yet to decide on the pricing, production targets and advertising spends for the US market. Stringent emission norms is forcing M&M to reconfigure the vehicles it proposes to launch in the highly-competitive US market, said those connected with the project.
The auto major will initially start pick-up operations and those of SUVs through the completelybuilt-unit route followed by the completely-knocked-down route. The SUV will be based on the Scorpio platform, but will be completely redesigned for the US market and badged differently, said sources.
The company intends to start local assembly operations when volumes start picking up.
However, it isn’t yet clear how M&M intends to market its products. As the company’s dieselpowered pick-ups had slow sales in South Africa, where they were launched in 2006. “Compared to that, US is a mature market and consumer behaviour will tend to be markedly different,” said one analyst who...