Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd has big plans to break the U.S. market, and plans to introduce a two- and four-door pickup stateside by summer 2009. We've reported on Mahindra's goals before, but recent reports from pickuptruck.com and Automotive News fill in a few details we didn't have previously.
The pickup, dubbed Appalachian and said to be comparable in size to a Toyota Tacoma, will be powered by a Bosch-developed 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine making around 145 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, although final performance numbers have not been released. We're a little concerned about using this engine stateside, as it is based on Bosch diesel technology that is untested in the U.S., and it has yet to pass Bin 5 diesel emissions standards and therefore cannot be sold in eight states (inlcuding California and New York).
Mahindra says the truck will be available in two- or four-wheel drive, come standard with a paddle-shift six-speed automatic transmission, and feature a U.S.-designed interior. Fuel economy is said to be in the 30 to 35 mpg range, while the Appalachian's 7.5-foot cargo box will have a payload capacity of about 1.3 tons (2,600 lbs). It will be based on the Scorpio SUV, a vehicle that currently sells in India and is similar to a Ford Explorer dimension-wise.
Mahindra has also announced that a diesel hybrid powertrain is also slated for the same pickup truck in 2010. Should the truck proceed according to schedule, it could be the first diesel-hybrid pickup to be sold in the U.S. The diesel-hybrid version is likely to cost "several thousand more" than the diesel-only Appalachian. Plans are also underway to bring the Scorpio SUV and potentially a crossover to the global market as well.
Approximately 300 dealers have reportedly been enlisted to sell Mahindra Appalachians if they get to our shores, and an initial production date of March 15, 2009 has reportedly been set -- though with no emissions or crash testing underway, that seems a little optimistic. Final assembly of the Appalachian will be conducted in Ohio to avoid 25-percent federal import tariffs, but despite that cost-saving measure, the base price of the Appalachian will reside around $22,000 according to Global Vehicles, the U.S. importer for Mahindra.
Global says that the Appalachian represents a truck costing twice as much, but that remains to be seen. In any case, will an Indian-built pickup truck ever crack the U.S. market? From where we stand, the Appalachian may offer a multi-thousand dollar savings in the mid-size truck segment, but will serious buyers care? Just how much of a value does Mahindra have to offer the Appalachian at for buyers to care? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
By: Rory Jurnecka