Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is a major player in its domestic market and is a multinational automotive company that manufactures not only cars but also motorcycles, tractors and commercial vehicles. Headquartered in Mumbai, India, they have been around since 1945. So it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about staying on top of the ever-evolving automotive market.
Fast forward to 2022, and Mahindra has partnered with another automotive company, one of the world’s largest. Volkswagen. And their partnership aims to help both companies stay on top of the trends the automotive world is seeing, which is undoubtedly the shift to electric vehicles.
We took a closer look at the potential outcomes of this coming together of two auto giants, and the result could be something that could disrupt the U.S. market for years to come.
Mahindra Roxas Saga in the US
Mahindra has already tried to establish itself in North America, and it didn’t go as smoothly as they might have thought. Their bet was on the Mahindra Roxas, and it looked quite similar to the Jeep CJ. Although the Roxor is not a street-legal vehicle, it is an off-road ATV. This was not a direct rip-off, as Mahindra had been building the Jeep CJ under license for decades since the 1960s. And they weren’t the only licensed manufacturer of Jeeps, as automakers like Mitsubishi and EBRO in Spain also built them. But coming back to Mahindra, for a long time, both Jeep and Mahindra stuck to their respective playgrounds. Jeep’s main focus is the US market and Mahindra’s main focus is the Indian market. It lasted for years, and in between, Jeep changed ownership and eventually came under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – which then merged with PSA and is now known as Stellenbosch.
Time passed, 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 similarities between Jeep Wrangler and Mahindra Roxor, the companies stopped seeing eye to eye. Eye, at least in America. Matters went to court, and the FCA tried to stop Roxar sales altogether. Mahindra said its Roxas doesn’t compete directly with the Wrangler, but not everyone was convinced.
Long story short, the Mahindra Roxas was banned from being sold in the US. So they went back to the drawing board and came out with a new design for Roxor. The International Trade Commission (ITC) said in late 2020 that the trademark no longer resembled Jeep and, therefore, lifted the cease-and-desist order. Mahindra got the green light.
Mahindra and Volkswagen join forces
While the Roxor was Mahindra’s first foray into the US market, its new partnership with Volkswagen could open more doors for the Indian automaker. Mahindra has announced that it will introduce several 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 VW’s proven Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) platform.
This tells us that Mahindra is eyeing the electric vehicle space. But what do these brands gain from each other? Volkswagen has the opportunity to work with a company that has expertise in creating cost-effective manufacturing processes and has access to manufacturing plants that have a heavy workforce and a cheap workforce. This will help them reduce the cost of the MEB platform.
As for Mahindra, they access the MEB Open Vehicle Design Platform. This will allow them to fast-track the development of their electric vehicle portfolio. Additionally, they gain access to VW’s most advanced electrical components such as electric motors, battery cells, and battery system components. All this saves them a lot of research and development.
Mahindra’s ICE-powered and EV-converted models will not meet US emissions, or safety standards. However, Mahindra may now have a chance to build its next-generation electric vehicles with a fresh sheet of paper with a proven underpinning. A platform that may be suitable to meet the needs in developed markets such as the US. It is possible that the Indian carmaker may look to enter other global markets such as North America and expand its presence in the US. Mahindra will introduce its Born Electric Vision in July when we’re sure more plans will be announced.
Mahindra’s introduction and persistence with the Roxor is proof that the automaker wants to make a mark in the US and eventually graduate to offering passenger vehicles deemed fit for American roads. A partnership with Volkswagen might be the key that unlocks that door for them.
Source: Volkswagen, Mahindra