Published:  12:30 AM, 15 March 2019

Mahindra takes second crack at US auto market

Mahindra takes second crack at US auto market

"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.

---Reuters

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