"Warning: Don't do anything stupid!" reads the sign to the right of Rick Haas' office computer.It is the same tongue-in-cheek warning affixed to the dashboard of every off-road Mahindra Roxor vehicle that Indian automaker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd assembles in a suburb north of Detroit.
The motto might also apply to the Indian automaker's latest attempt to enter the U.S. auto market - an effort Haas, a former executive at Ford Motor Co and Tesla Inc, is leading.
A decade ago, Mahindra tried to break in to the U.S. market with a low-cost pickup truck. The foray ended in failure and a lawsuit from dealers demanding their franchise fees back.
Haas, the automaker's North American chief executive, says this time Mahindra has a more cautious "pay-as-you-go strategy." Instead of starting with a truck or passenger car, Mahindra is reintroducing its brand with the Roxor, a vehicle that looks like a vintage Jeep.
Mahindra has built around 3,000 off-road Roxors and is using the model, which starts at around $15,000, to demonstrate to American consumers and dealers "acutely aware of our previous experience" here that the Indian automaker can build a reliable product before it launches mainstream models for use on American roads, Haas told Reuters. "Getting burned makes you cautious," Haas said.
Mahindra is one of a handful of European and Asian automakers gearing up to enter the U.S. market in hopes of gaining sales as well as credibility that can boost their brands at home.
Leave Your Comments