China got a headstart in the “countries with over a billion people who suddenly love owning a car” race, but India’s trying its best to catch up.
With a growing pool of consumers ready and willing to hand over cash for a car, Ford Motor Company knows partnering with a local company that knows the lay of the land is a speedier and cheaper route to profits, so last year it formed an alliance with Mahindra Group. You know Mahindra â€” the company currently building a retro Jeep-shaped ATV for nostalgic Americans.
This week, the two companies further consummated their bond by signing off on the joint development of SUVs.
On Thursday, Mahindra and Ford put fresh ink on five non-binding memoranda of understanding (MoU) and promised to put the pedal down on the creation of new utility vehicles for Indian buyers. Those buyers know Ford pretty well. After all, the EcoSport went on sale in the subcontinent years ago. Ford sales in India rose last year, along with exports. The country as a whole set a new-car sales record, pushing above the 4 million vehicle mark in 2017.
Mahindra is no stranger to building SUVs. After all, what rugged Indian doesn’t lust after a rugged Mahindra CJ Thar?
The first vehicle off the shared drawing board is a mid-sized SUV built on a Mahindra platform, Ford claims. Both companies will also look at creating a compact SUV and an electric vehicle together. The alliance goes further than that, however, as Ford and Mahinda also agreed to share powertrains amongst themselves.
Also in the works is a suite of connected car technology to help bring the Indian driver into the 21st century. There’s a large safety component in this initiative, as Indian roads and highways are not famous for strict laws and laid-back driving habits.
â€œListening to our customers and incorporating their future needs is the core premise of this collaboration,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, in a statement. “With utility vehicles and electrification as key focus areas, we are glad to see the progress our two companies have made.â€�
For its help in assisting Ford’s overseas business, Mahindra gets access to the Blue Oval’s manufacturing and distribution network, thus helping the domestic automaker in the export market. This latest phase of the corporate relationship covers a period of three years.
[Image: Ford India]