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Old 18th December 2007, 05:38   #46
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Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
A search on the net for prices yields 2.95$ as the cheapest gas price and 3.25$ as the cheapest diesel price. So a 10-15% higher efficiency of diesel is irrelevant atleast for a pickup. Also diesel availability is quite suspect in the US. Not all fuel bunks carry diesel.
Diesel bunkers are not hard to find in the U.S. I have owned and driven several diesels there over the years. I did a quick calculation good for December 17, 2007 only. Based on the average diesel price and the rate of exchange etc.....the cost of U.S. diesel was 34.95 rupees. Please let us not start a flame war over this. It can be calculated different ways. This is an estimate from that date, a generalization.

Mahindra is entering a tough market with lots of competition. I am not sure they are ready. Amercans expect 80,000 trouble free kilometers from a vehicle after purchase. If an ashtray does not work they complain, if a radio skips stations they complain, if a sunvisor falls off they complain. Toyota and Honda lead the way in N. America followed closely by many others. What sells them? Quality, dependibility. Price is secondary.

American winters are harsh. American average yearly driving distances are much greater than Indian. Cold starting a diesel in the northern climates takes a robust electrcal system. Salt from winter road maintainance gets into everything, wires, exhaust system and paint. Everything exposed corrodes very quickly. Fit and finish have to be good to keep corrosive elements out. Matching an auto tranny to an engine is complex given today's computer chip involvement. From what I see of Mahindra's "take it or leave it" syle of business that they do here in India, North Americans will leave it, big time. Americans will not tolerate standing by the roadside in -15 degree weather waiting for a recovery vehicle to take them to the dealer. They will not say that they are lucky to save money on the intitial purchase, they will say they have to get there from point A to Point B, end of story.

I do not think Mahindra has its corporate head out of its corporate tailpipe. I do not think they understand what they are getting into in North America. They are not ready. I think it will be some years yet. It strikes me that Mahindra should wait and watch what happens with the world petroleum market and then when petroleum gets too expensive, this will be soon, they should be ready and step around old petroleum technology and offer something new. Something India can give the world that no one else can. Diesels that run on cow poop! No, but maybe diesels that run on hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. Or alcohol maybe. But I do not think that Mahindra can compete in North America in the petroleum market with the arrogant mindset they have now.
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Old 18th December 2007, 06:38   #47
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80,000 km trouble free? try double that MINIMALLY.

Americans also don't buy diesels. they hate the smell of diesel. they hate the clatter of diesel engines.they expect very quick acceleration from 40km/h to 120km/h to merge onto highspeed interstates.

They also don't buy manual transmissions.

And yes, the point of winters is important. American municipalities use very harsh salts to keep the snow and ice clear of the roads. This stuff is BRUTAL and causes steel to rust through. it takes special steels to withstand this and even, one winter will cause rust to show up on the car. Has M&M designed its steel to withstand that salt?

Entering the US market with a manual transmission diesel vehicle that can't reach 100km/h in less than 10 seconds is asking for serious trouble.

But they may succeed in selling to farmers and mountain cabin dwellers and loggers and the like. The mainstream public will certainly not embrace this vehicle.
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Old 18th December 2007, 08:37   #48
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I do not think Mahindra has its corporate head out of its corporate tailpipe.
Very well said - an apt summary ; unless, of course, their strategy for N America is radically different from their "take it or leave it" attitude prevalent here
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Old 18th December 2007, 10:13   #49
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Americans also don't buy diesels. they hate the smell of diesel. they hate the clatter of diesel engines.they expect very quick acceleration from 40km/h to 120km/h to merge onto highspeed interstates.

They also don't buy manual transmissions.
1. New-gen common rails arent smelly at all.

2. Mid-range (40 to 120) is far superior to their petrol counterparts. For some cars, the diesels have quicker acceleration in the 0 - 100 too.

3. Mahindra has tied up with someone for a slushbox.

But yes, I do agree with your statement that it will be a huge challenge for Mahindra in the States. The potential for cheap pickups is huge, but the commitment has to be very very strong, to meet expectations. But it was only a matter of time, right?
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Old 18th December 2007, 13:11   #50
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1. New-gen common rails arent smelly at all.
Have to disagree, latest diesels sold in our market (Verna, Swift) are still smelly albeit better than before. Or maybe, it could be that I've been used to petrols always.
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Old 18th December 2007, 14:38   #51
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Just to clear up some stuff people have posted earlier, first, the 45,000 number looks like a misinterpretation -- from their site, that seems to just be the U.S. importer's sales goal for the first year, nothing more. Not sure how this article extrapolated "orders" from that.

Second, they're not going to sell very many Scorpios here in the U.S. -- the main sales will be the two- and four-door pickups, which will be reportedly be badged the "Appalachian."

Truck Trend reported in July that the engine is a 2.2L I4 turbodiesel putting out 180 bhp, 300 lb-ft of torque. That's more torque than the Dodge Dakota's 4.7L Magnum V8, the most powerful compact pickup engine currently in the U.S., puts out. Also, M&M is quoting an EPA gas mileage rating of 30/37 mpg, which is about double what the Dakota and other competitors get.

Transmissions are a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Not sure where they sourced those from.

These will be the only diesel-powered compact trucks in the US market for the next couple years (GM's still working on its new entry-diesel), which is very significant. Ford doesn't have money to spend on the Ranger, so that's being discontinued, and the torque and efficiency advantages over the Dodge, GM, Toyota, Nissan, etc. pickups are significant.

So the main competition will be current compact/mid-size pickups. I'm not quite sure what they're targeting the SUV version (Scorpio) towards, but for those talking about the CRV/RAV-4, etc. (which I can understand given how those are marketed in India) -- those are low-end car-based "soft-utes" that can't take any loads or go off-road. The M&M trucks are built on a ladder frame and will be marketed in the U.S. in an entirely different segment.

One of the big issues I see is the interior quality -- the Indian-spec Scorpio is several generations behind current U.S. consumer expectations, even in the pickup market, so that's a problem. I saw a post online by a guy who went to the importer's office in Georgia to check out the trucks - he said the exterior finish (paint, panel gaps, etc.) is noticeably better than the Indian version, and they've tried hard to spruce up the interior, but even better carpeting, leather seats, and add-on electronic gadgety can only take it so far. He said the end result looks like "80s-luxury," not bad, but not as modern-looking as competitors.

As for consumer acceptance of diesel, remember that to be sold in the U.S., these will have to be clean diesels. M&M has said it'll meet Tier 2 Bin 5 spec, and to do that, they're employing a urea injection system similar to Mercedes' BlueTec. Second, again, for the most part, they're not targeting high-end urban markets in the US with this. Primary focus will be people who need a reliable work truck and maybe an extra SUV for the weekends or something.

These markets will be far more receptive to diesel than urban consumer ones, and even those will change soon enough. Mercedes and VW have had clean diesels in the US for some time, but they're not volume brands -- US consumer perceptions will begin to change when Honda releases the Accord Diesel (to replace the Hybrid, which was discontinued).

There was an interview with the U.S. importer's CEO, and he said that they had identified three main groups they're targeting for the M&M trucks - "green buyers" who will like the fuel efficiency, Mahindra tractor owners, and Indian-Americans. Instead of spending money on print or TV ads, most of the marketing will focus on web ads on sites those groups tend to visit.

Here's an interesting article to read:

Baseball, Apple Pie...and Mahindra?
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Old 18th December 2007, 22:10   #52
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Rural buyers in the US are the most patriotic and the Big3 rely on them for consistent sales.

To make up for the lack of diesels, the big3 are promoting E85 (ethanol) in a big way. In the midwest where a lot of these trucks sell, E85 availability is getting better and better.
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Old 18th December 2007, 22:28   #53
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how about fixing the scorpio in india before trying to sell it abroad
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Old 18th December 2007, 23:07   #54
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Originally Posted by Mpower View Post
Rural buyers in the US are the most patriotic and the Big3 rely on them for consistent sales.

To make up for the lack of diesels, the big3 are promoting E85 (ethanol) in a big way. In the midwest where a lot of these trucks sell, E85 availability is getting better and better.
E85 is not really useful -- Flex-fuel vehicles actually delivers worse fuel economy and performance when using E85 (less energy content than gas).

Yes, they're mostly rural buyers, but it's key to look at a couple of things. First, these aren't high-end, full-size pickup buyers. Even Toyota and Nissan still haven't been able to crack that market. The compact/mid-size pickup market, on the other hand, is pretty much wide open. Toyota currently leads in sales with the Tacoma, so it's not a matter of Big 3 brand loyalty.

In these markets, huge efficiency gains and high load capacity should be very useful.
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Old 19th December 2007, 01:42   #55
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Originally Posted by amb9800 View Post
Just to clear up some stuff people have posted earlier, first, the 45,000 number looks like a misinterpretation -- from their site, that seems to just be the U.S. importer's sales goal for the first year, nothing more. Not sure how this article extrapolated "orders" from that.

Baseball, Apple Pie...and Mahindra?
Are you A Bakshi from BRF?
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Old 19th December 2007, 03:32   #56
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They won't get the rural farmer type people just because of fuel economy. The vehicles will have to be useful. This means able to tow at the very least 2.5 tons on the highway, able to cruise at 130km/h while towing that kind of load, even in mountainous terrain, with the braking and stability necessary for safety, as well as the structural strength to withstand that.

Presuming that rural farmers and similar folks somehow have lower standards is dangerous. they don't have lower standards. just different ones that are not even seen in India. I towed my MX5 on its trailer (total weight, 1.8 tons, over a distance of 800km in one day, over mountains, averaging 110km/h. The mahindra vehicles will need to be able to do that safely if they are going to target the rural people.
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Old 19th December 2007, 04:42   #57
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Originally Posted by Mayavi View Post
Are you A Bakshi from BRF?
Yep.

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Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
They won't get the rural farmer type people just because of fuel economy. The vehicles will have to be useful. This means able to tow at the very least 2.5 tons on the highway, able to cruise at 130km/h while towing that kind of load, even in mountainous terrain, with the braking and stability necessary for safety, as well as the structural strength to withstand that.

Presuming that rural farmers and similar folks somehow have lower standards is dangerous. they don't have lower standards. just different ones that are not even seen in India. I towed my MX5 on its trailer (total weight, 1.8 tons, over a distance of 800km in one day, over mountains, averaging 110km/h. The mahindra vehicles will need to be able to do that safely if they are going to target the rural people.
The Austrialian-market Scorpio pickup with the older 2.5L I4 diesel with only 106 hp / 182 lb-ft can tow over 5,000 lbs (2.5 tons) and has a >2,000 lb payload, so the US version with the new 2.2L (180 hp, 300 lb-ft) and new transmissions will surely do more, and likely more than most other mid-size pickups currently in the US.

The interior features and finish and all can be questioned, but as far as the chassis, frame, etc., these things have to be very rugged to survive what they're put through in Indian conditions, so there shouldn't be any structural issues to deal with. Reviews from other export markets (South Africa, Australia, etc.) say the main drivetrain components seem to be meant for far larger vehicles and should take heavy-duty use.

Now hopefully they'll work on the handling aspect before the US launch, but the main bits seem to be set.
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Old 19th December 2007, 05:37   #58
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Originally Posted by amb9800 View Post
E85 is not really useful -- Flex-fuel vehicles actually delivers worse fuel economy and performance when using E85 (less energy content than gas).

Yes, they're mostly rural buyers, but it's key to look at a couple of things. First, these aren't high-end, full-size pickup buyers. Even Toyota and Nissan still haven't been able to crack that market. The compact/mid-size pickup market, on the other hand, is pretty much wide open. Toyota currently leads in sales with the Tacoma, so it's not a matter of Big 3 brand loyalty.

In these markets, huge efficiency gains and high load capacity should be very useful.
Every fuel has certain + and - points. As far as diesels its not widely available either and is currently costs 50c more per gallon average.

E85 prices should come down in a year or two after all the new plants are running full steam.

Coming to the compact truck market, there is a reason that Ford hasn't updated the Ranger in 20 years. The market has simply crashed. GM is there only because it is sharing an Isuzu platform that is sold in Thailand and elsewhere. Its also shared with the H3 to keep costs low. Chrysler is going to drop the Dakota due to poor sales.

I'm not trying to put down Mahindra..all I'm saying is that 45,000 is highly optimistic. I am thinking more like 5-10K.
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Old 19th December 2007, 08:39   #59
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The Austrialian-market Scorpio pickup with the older 2.5L I4 diesel with only 106 hp / 182 lb-ft can tow over 5,000 lbs (2.5 tons) and has a >2,000 lb payload, so the US version with the new 2.2L (180 hp, 300 lb-ft) and new transmissions will surely do more, and likely more than most other mid-size pickups currently in the US.
I remain skeptical. its not about being able to pull 2.5 tons if somebody tries to. Its about being able to pull it at high speed, for tens of thousands of miles, safely, without burning out transmissions, and without running out of braking capacity, at high speeds, in snow and ice, over mountains, etc.

Even the mighty jeep wrangler is rated for only 1 ton. It may be able to pull 3 tons if someone tried it, but its can't do safely and not for too long before breaking something.

Its not just about a strong frame and enough torque. Its about having put in a million miles of testing to develop the dynamics of the vehicle under tow conditions. I just don't believe M&M has done that, or even has the know how to do it.

I'll believe it when I see it.
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Old 19th December 2007, 09:33   #60
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Every fuel has certain + and - points. As far as diesels its not widely available either and is currently costs 50c more per gallon average.

E85 prices should come down in a year or two after all the new plants are running full steam.
Diesel is actually much more widely available than some think it is -- there were actually recently some studies looking into diesel fuel availability in the U.S. (going beyond just which stations claim to have diesel -- actually going to check and look into related disincentives, etc.), and it's very widely available. There aren't too many places in the U.S. without a nearby diesel-supplying station.

E85, on the other hand, is essentially only in the midwest, the corn belt. Corn is not a very good source to make ethanol from (compared to, say, sugarcane), and E85 depends heavily on government subsidies. The only reason it's on the market at all is because the corn lobby wants it, as do some domestic carmakers (e.g. GM) because they have flex-fuel engines, which could make gas guzzlers like their GMT900 (Suburban, etc.) full-size trucks appear more "green" to consumers. (going along with EPA E85 rating loophole as well)

Otherwise it has no significance -- it's not a realistic renewable source, as even if production efficiency were to significantly increase, you'd need to fill all of North America with only corn fields to match even just a portion of current vehicular gasoline consumption (it's also hurting other agricultural sectors by raising feed prices). Also, given that, with subsidies, the price will at best be equal to gasoline, why would consumers buy something that will give them ~30% worse fuel efficiency?

Clean diesel's obviously not a renewable source (except biodiesel, but that's a differen topic), but it's a practical solution to get much better fuel efficiency and better performance (mainly torque) across the board (meaning you can use smaller engines too). Only main downside is extra NOx emissions, but with the new filters and urea injection systems being used to meet stricter standards, they're often less than gas emissions.

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Coming to the compact truck market, there is a reason that Ford hasn't updated the Ranger in 20 years. The market has simply crashed. GM is there only because it is sharing an Isuzu platform that is sold in Thailand and elsewhere. Its also shared with the H3 to keep costs low. Chrysler is going to drop the Dakota due to poor sales.

I'm not trying to put down Mahindra..all I'm saying is that 45,000 is highly optimistic. I am thinking more like 5-10K.
Ford cancelled the Ranger because they had forked the platform -- the Explorer got a continually updated one, while the Ranger was ignored. As a result, it became the only real compact in a mid-size market, and in 2004, Toyota crushed Ranger sales. So Ford decided to do what they did the Taurus before- let a formerly major nameplate languish and die. In a few years, they'll probably bring it back (ala Taurus).

GM and Ford have also discontinued their minivans, but that's still a profitable segment for Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, etc. GM/Ford just decided it would take them far too many resources to match the others (which is interesting given that Hyundai/Kia did it pretty easily - their current minivans are almost in the same league as the rest, and much better than the old GM/Ford ones).

The Dakota's still on track for production - they actually just facelifted and upgraded it for 2008. GM also has a new Sure, it's not a big growth market, but neither are full-size SUVs, which Ford, GM, and now even Toyota (the big new Sequoia) have invested a lot in through new models.

Toyota has sold over 180,000 Tacomas so far this year, breaking sales records. I agree that 45,000 is ambitious on M&M's part, but if they get the details right, I think they can do pretty decently. They should be able to move enough if they can pull off what they're promising -- a truck that's a bit lower priced than the competitors, but with more payload and towing capacity and double the fuel efficiency...

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I remain skeptical. its not about being able to pull 2.5 tons if somebody tries to. Its about being able to pull it at high speed, for tens of thousands of miles, safely, without burning out transmissions, and without running out of braking capacity, at high speeds, in snow and ice, over mountains, etc.

Even the mighty jeep wrangler is rated for only 1 ton. It may be able to pull 3 tons if someone tried it, but its can't do safely and not for too long before breaking something.

Its not just about a strong frame and enough torque. Its about having put in a million miles of testing to develop the dynamics of the vehicle under tow conditions. I just don't believe M&M has done that, or even has the know how to do it.

I'll believe it when I see it.
Well manufacturers obviously need to have some basis for coming up with tow ratings...so we'll see what M&M eventually brings to the US. (e.g. Dodge states "Dodge rates its trucks based on towing trailers on fairly level roads in moderate weather conditions.") Here's a chart of tow ratings for almost all trucks currently sold in the US:

http://www.trailerlife.com/towratings/07towratings.pdf

As for the Wrangler, the most powerful engine in the TJ (through 2006) was a pretty miserable AMC 4.0L I6 (same basic design as AMC introduced in 1964) putting out 190 hp / 230 lb-ft in final form. The highest tow rating Chrysler gave it was only 2,000 lbs (1 ton), or 3,500 for the Unlimited model with the longer, reinforced frame. In any case, the competition is more along the lines of the Dakota, which is

I don't think Mahindra's going to just randomly over-rate their truck's numbers and then face disgruntled owners with shot transmissions...but again, let's wait and see. From all the information we currently have, though, it looks like a pretty solid drivetrain package.
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