A return gift is a courtesy. And SsangYong Motor has obliged. Thus the South Korean automaker’s full-size SUV, Rexton, will shed its signature face and brand name to become a Mahindra product. The yet to be named SUV will be launched in India sometime this year, said Pawan Goenka, managing director, M&M and chairman of the board at SsangYong.
In an article published in April 2017, Fortune India had detailed how Mahindra and Mahindra steered the then-troubled SsangYong out of trouble through its investment and leadership. There M&M had highlighted the synergy between the companies as one of the reasons for SsangYong’s turnaround.
Now, as Indians look to buy more SUVs--compact and full size--Mahindra is dipping into SsangYong’s product portfolio. The Rexton would add a premium SUV to Mahindra’s portfolio in India, and would possibly compete against Toyota’s Fortuner.
Besides Rexton, M&M also re-emphasised its commitment to electric mobility, unveiling a range of concept EVs, ranging from personal mobility space to an electric SUV. Anand Mahindra, chairman Mahindra Group, said the company intends to redefine the “future of mobility in India” with these offerings.
Mahindra also showcased an electric version of its sedan, Verito. The electric Verito was one of the cars that Mahindra expected to sell to Indian government’s Energy Efficient Services Limited (EESL), if it had won the contract. Tata Motors won the bid to supply 10,000 electric cars to EESL, though M&M was later awarded a contract for 150 electric cars and Tata a contract for 200 cars in the first phase of the project.
However, it would perhaps be the Treo that would be Mahindra’s first major success in electric mobility in India, in volume that is. The electric three-wheeler comes with a battery-swapping technology and would go on sale in the next six months, said Goenka. “This is the first step to mainstream adoption of EVs,” he said during the launch. Mahindra also showcased the latest version of e20, the successor of India’s first electric car, Reva, which M&M had acquired.
A new concept platform for its upcoming EVs was also unveiled. Besides showcasing the company’s progress, the platform also serves another purpose: It is yet another proof that auto component makers are in for a storm, as an EV platform has far less moving parts.
However, in case anyone forgets Mahindra is primarily a good-old oil-guzzling SUV maker, it showcased what perhaps is the most bizarre concept of the Auto Expo: an open-top version of its boxy, compact SUV, the TUV.