Mahindra & Mahindra’s new off-roader – an off-highway vehicle – will be born in the USA. Yesterday, the UV manufacturer opened a brand-new manufacturing facility in Auburn, Michigan, marking a first for an Indian OEM to open operations in Southeast Michigan in the past 25 years.
Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA), set up in 2013, works as a comprehensive automotive design, engineering and vehicle development centre for the Indian OEM. The new facility is part of the company’s expansion plans, and becomes a part of its $230 million (Rs 1,452 crore) investment in Southeast Michigan, which also includes a recently-opened warehouse and logistics operation in Pontiac and an existing prototype operation in Troy. In total, Mahindra now has expanded its manufacturing footprint to 400,000 square feet, spread across three Detroit area facilities. M&M set up the Mahindra North America Technical Centre four years ago in Troy, Michigan, to “leverage the automotive talent and intellect surrounding Detroit”.
MANA, in the past 18 months, has tripled its workforce to 250, and by 2020 aims to create 400 more jobs, which will see additional projects and investment of another $600 million (Rs 3,790 crore) in local investments.
New off-roader in the works
The new facility in Detroit will produce an off-highway vehicle designed and engineered at MANA, and M&M claims the vehicle will be unlike anything currently available in the market. Its first offering in the USA will fall in the off-highway category of vehicles meant for recreational purposes or commercial use but it cannot ply on the roads, except maybe from the home to the farm or to an off-road course. These vehicles need to meet safety and emission norms that are not as stringent as the norms for road-going vehicles.
It is not the first time that M&M is making an attempt to enter the American passenger vehicle market. A Scorpio-based pick-up was planned for that market and dealers were appointed too, but plans ran into rough weather, ending in a legal dispute with the OEM's dealers. That was around five years ago.
“This is an exciting day for Mahindra, our terrific employees and Detroit. I couldn’t be prouder to be here to help open this new facility today,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group. “This building opening represents our company’s growing presence in North America and locally in the Metro Detroit area where we have tripled our workforce during the past 18 months. We are committed to growing the Mahindra brand in North America and Michigan.”
Mahindra also was recently named as one of five vehicle manufacturers selected by the United State Postal Service (USPS) to produce prototype delivery trucks for testing and evaluation.